The Volkswagen Group has announced a new app store for vehicles across its brand portfolio at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The new in-vehicle marketplace is being developed by the Group’s software subsidiary CARIAD, with support from Harman, and will offer apps from third-party developers alongside exclusive apps from Audi, Porsche, and other Volkswagen Group brands. Audi customers will be the first to benefit from the new app store, with the brand integrating it into models equipped with MIB 3 – the Group’s modular infotainment toolkit.
Through the store, Volkswagen Group customers will be able to access a broad range of third-party apps through a data link enabled by the vehicle’s e-SIM. The apps selected by the customer can be installed directly through the vehicle’s infotainment system – eliminating the need for drivers to use their smartphones to carry this process out.
Driving the new app store from a technological perspective is an expansion of MIB 3 that leverages an new hardware module. The module, sized similarly to a USB flash drive, is loaded with an open-source operating system, which enables the vehicle to access new third-party apps.
When this new app store launches, customers will be able to access it through a new MMI tile and download apps from a variety of categories – including music, video, gaming, navigation, parking & charging, productivity, weather, and news. In the music section, for example, apps for streaming services such as Amazon Music and Spotify will be offered. Further examples of apps available on the store at launch include Tubi, The Weather Channel, Yelp, TikTok, Plugshare, the Vivaldi web browser, and Webex by Cisco. The Volkswagen Group has said that its third-party app portfolio is adapted specifically to its various consumer markets around the world.
The store’s roll out will begin in July 2023 – launching in Audi models equipped with MIB 3, a line-up that currently includes the Audi A3, A4, A5, Q5, A6, A7, A8, Q8 e-tron, and e-tron GT. This launch will target customers in Europe, Canada, Mexico, and the Group’s overseas markets before rolling out to further models, regions, and Volkswagen brands. Because the store will be fitted in these models from the factory, it will not be available on vehicles with an earlier production date.