AT&T expands smart car role

Announces PadFone X and LG G Flex

LAS VEGAS -- AT&T, making sure that auto makers don't get all the credit for the smart cars of the future, called attention to AT&T's wireless network that will connect cars to powerful apps, content and data on distant servers.

Many of the world's major auto makers are expected to show in-car apps at this week's International CES trade show. AT&T separately announced AT&T Drive, a modular computing platform for car makers to customize their own apps.

AT&T also opened its Drive Studio, a 5,000-square-foot facility in Atlanta that will use garage bays to conduct research on apps and to help show car-based apps from multiple companies.

AT&T has previously made inroads with connected home innovations and with previous telematics announcements and it sees the automobile as another wireless network element.

"We view the car as a smartphone on wheels," said Glenn Lurie, AT&T's president of emerging enterprises, in comments at the AT&T Developer Summit here. "There will be 4G hotspots in the car, with all the content when and where and how I want it."

Cloud provider Syncronoss Technologies will provide a simple activation process for AT&T Drive and the Drive Studio.

Adds Asus Padfone X, LG G Flex

Also Monday, AT&T announced it will be the exclusive provider of the Asus Padfone X, a 5-in., high-definition smartphone that docks with a 9-in. HD tablet. The device will ship mid-year although pricing hasn't been announced.

AT&T will also join other U.S. carriers to offer the LG G Flex smartphone with its curved 6-in. OLED display that's being shown at CES. The device went on sale in November in South Korea and is expected to hit AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile sometime in the first quarter. It features a 2.26 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, and a 13-megapixel rear camera with a 2.1 megapixel front camera.

An LG representative explains some of the features of the LG G Flex curbed smartphone at the 2014 International CES trade show.

This article, AT&T expands smart car role, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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