For years the competition has been going on the Chinese internet about who controls your mobile apps. Nowadays, giants are increasingly attracted to offline scenarios. It includes what’s going on behind the dashboard in your car. On Tuesday, at the annual Shanghai Auto Show Alibaba announced that it’s developing apps for connected cars are pretty much more interesting. By using voice, motion or touch control, will let find drivers restaurants, queue up and make reservations at restaurants, order food and eventually complete a plethora of other tasks.
In-car apps are developed by third-party developers which will run on Alibaba’s operating system AliOS. These in-car services come in the form of “mini apps,” rather than working as a standalone app. These are smaller than regular ones in exchange for faster access and smaller file sizes. Available in Alibaba’s all-in-one digital wallet Alipay.
Other so-called “super apps” are present in the Alibaba’s ecosystem such as marketplace Taobao and navigation service AutoNavi. And if Alibaba wants people to spend more while sitting in a four-wheeler, the payments solution clearly makes more economic sense.
A company spokesperson told TechCrunch, there’s no timeline for when Alibaba will officially roll out in-car mini apps but it’s already planning for launch. Lite apps are known to be easier and cheaper to build than a native app. Although there are some concessions that developers have to make like giving their hosts a certain level of access to user data and obeying rules as they would with Apple’s App Store.
Alibaba says there will be “specific review criteria for safety and control” tailored to the auto industry for in-car services. In 2017, the operating system has been rebranded with a deep focus to put AliOS into car partners. To achieve this goal, Banma Network, a joint venture has been set up by Alibaba. Partnership with state-owned automaker SAIC Motor and Dongfeng Peugeot Citroen, which is the French car company’s China venture, that would hawk and integrate AliOS-powered solutions with car clients.
700 thousand AliOS-powered SAIC vehicles had been sold as of last August.