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Volt Link
27

Volt Link pulled due to cease and desist request, no longer supported

We don't enjoy relaying news such as this, but it appears as though Volt Link, an app enabling Windows Phone owners who are OnStar subscribers (www.onstar.com) to access actions and functionality using the handset, will no longer be supported or available on Windows Phone.

The developer has revealed to a Windows Phone Central reader that a cease and desist letter was sent by GM/OnStar, requesting the immediate withdrawal of the app from the Store.

We covered Volt Link when it appeared on the Store, but we noted it wasn't officially affiliated by OnStar. Functionality available in the app included the ability to send Bing results directly to a supported vehicle, while those who drive Chevy Volts were able to find EV charging stations. It was a useful app that sported a number of features.

The following is an automated response from the developer of Volt Link:

"Thank you for contacting Volt Link support. This is an automated
reply, I don't just have ninja-like e-mail reflexes.

GM/OnStar has sent a cease-and-desist letter to me related to the
distribution and support of Volt Link. Because of this, the
application is no longer available from the Windows Phone marketplace,
and I'm not allowed to support it in any form.

I don't have any expectation that this situation will change in the future."

Attempting to locate the app on the Store yields no results, so we can only assume the app has already been pulled and will not be making a return for the foreseeable future. We hope a solution is available in due course, but for now those who wish to make use of their OnStar subscription will be stuck until an official app is released.

There's a thread over on OnStar Connections that's calling for Windows Phone support (started in May 2012), but be sure to press further to build momentum and demand.

Thanks, Edwin, for the tip!

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Comments

There are 27 comments. Sign in to comment

inteller says:

if I were Microsoft I would not respond to these orders unless the complainer has an official app already in the store.

theflew says:

I agree. How hard could it be for OnStar to make a front in to their webservice?

mmaestro says:

And you would be dealing with a lot of lawsuits. That's just not a tenable strategy, much as it may suck.

stephen_az says:

First, the letter was sent to the developer.  Second, if the guy essentially hacked access to a closed network without GM's permission, he is lucky that he only received a cease and desist letter. It could have as easily been a visit from law enforcement.  You only have end user rights on that sort of system. Third, GM is not only within its rights, it is really obliged to shut the person down or risk litigation from Onstar users when something goes wrong.  Finally, anyone who thinks that it is a good idea to allow someone to develop a third party app that can manage an Onstar account, unlock the doors, and start your car, could save themselves some time and just hand the keys to an identity thief.  The more I think about it, I am more inclined to think the cease and desist letter was either a cease and desist order from a judge, or was a letter indicating that the matter was being refered to law enforcement if not shut down immediately. . 

Oldmajor says:

GM/OnStar had a developer contest and allowed access to the OnStar api. This was not a hack job, there are other sites that still utilize the same API, gm seems to just be irrational or thought no one would be able to develop a viable app

mr_808 says:

Sounds like there is an official app in the works.  Why else would GM be upset about someone developing this kind of app?  

spcdog says:

I'm sure their biggest concern is security. It's only a matter of time before someone comes up with a hack that lets you access the OnStar system on other people's cars. The cost to GM to recall and upgrade millions of cars to patch that would be insane, not to mention potential lawsuits and safety issues. Apps like this seem benign, but I'm sure GM is keen on shutting down the "hacker" community with extreme prejudice.

Although, ignoring the obvious safety issues, I'd pay a lot for an app that lets me disable the idiot driver's car in front of me and get them off the road. Maybe GM is missing out on a big business opportunity here. ;)

theflew says:

Hacking OnStar isn't as easy as it sounds.  First you would need someone's OnStar user id/password and their pin code.  Then you would need to know where their car is.  Even after all of that you could only unlock the car and steal the content of the car.  You could start it, but it will not allow you to shift out of park without a key.   It's easier to just break the window if that's all you want.
I used this app with my Volt.  It's no different than the web application I could open in my phones browser.  It was just more convenient.  You phone doesn't talk directly to the car.  Communications with the car can only be done via OnStar's servers.  S,o basically you authenicate to the server and then the server connects and sends the commands to the car in a format unknown to the user/developer.

tbonenga says:

Why else would GM be upset? Well for starters Microsoft and Ford is in a partnership. Fords version of onstar is run by Microsoft. Still it sucks. GM needs to make an official app or let 3rd parties do it for them.

MikadoWu says:

Does the publisher make a Android or iPhone version?  Did they have to remove those too? 

For what reason can they tell them to pull it?  I understand the Youtube clones and others that have been yanked, do to name and other copywrite stuff.  But this should be ok....

GM owns onstar. If they don't want a third party messing with their stuff they have the right to stop them. Its that simple.

MediaCastleX says:

They should just hire the guy ala Linked In =/

Mon-El says:

This!  Why don't they just pay the guy for his app, probably cheaper than developing a new one?!  Very odd.

I understand the frustration about this sort of thing but look sy it from GMs eyes. Lets say the app was terrible. Even though its unofficial, it tarnishes their name in the users eyes. I can totally get behind a company noy wanting a third party to make an app to use their services with.

Vheissu says:

Can't really tarnish GM's reputation any worse than they have

ejlee072006 says:

Well msft... There you go again..he probably got paid to pull this

slepr says:

I contacted onstar approximately 2 months ago about this. They said they had no plans to support WP. They allowed me to file a formal request using some online"new technology" form. Not being an app developer, I did my best explaining that with the confluence of WP8 and W8, and the millions of W users out there with many Onstar subscribers among them, there is a real opportunity to support an app. Got a response back saying it did not fit into their plans. Wish MS would use a little muscle and press GM to support us.

MadSci2 says:

Not that I needed a reason to avoid buying a GM car, but frankly, preventing a segment of their Customers from getting the most use of their vehicles and services is just the kind of stupidity I have come to expect from US Automakers. GM = FAIL!

thpsrulr says:

Maybe it has to do with the new Cadillac commercials showing their smart dashboard running QNX or Q as the commercial calls it so it will go to BlacBerry first before allowed on any other OS?

theflew says:

It's "CUE" not "Q".

thpsrulr says:

Good to know. :)

cdgoin says:

W T F GM? Whjats it hurt you.. it only helps.. STUPID STUPID STUPID
 

slepr says:

Have a Cadillac ATS on order. CUE is Linux based. Wonder if I could get my 920 to talk to CUE someday.

Oldmajor says:

GM actually releases their API to developers....... I guess they changed their mind smh

xpxp2002 says:

I ALWAYS request and emphasize my desire for a Windows Phone app when I get those OnStar surveys on their website. Unfortunately, with GM collaborating with Google on their new infotainment system, I'm not confident that it will make a difference unless enough people cancel their subscriptions and tell customer service that the lack of WP support is why.