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Ford makes app interface software more widely available to automakers

A slew of major automakers are now able to adopt Ford's open-source application interface software for their own vehicles, eliminating the need to use software from Apple or Google to enable consumers to access their favorite apps while driving.

In addition to Toyota's previously-announced usage of Ford's platform, other manufacturers, such as Honda, Subaru and Mazda, are also considering cottoning onto Ford's newly open-sourced platform. Developers will be able to take advantage of the SmartDeviceLink software to create apps that are compatible with vehicles and augment the driving experience for consumers, thanks to integrations with other popular platforms, including Spotify and AccuWeather.

?SmartDeviceLink is the agnostic app interface software that Ford contributed to the open-source community to set the industry standard for accessing smartphone apps inside the vehicle,? said Angie Kozleski at Ford Communications. ?SmartDeviceLink is the open-source software on which the Ford AppLink platform is built, providing customers with an easier way to access their smartphone apps via voice command or touch-screen interface. 

?SmartDeviceLink gives developers the opportunity to create a single app that will be compatible across multiple platforms,? she said. ?This unique solution helps ease the burden on developers who currently have to create applications for multiple platforms, adding complexity, time and cost to a project.

?Also, with the launch of, it is the latest step in creating an industry standard for vehicle application development, and will provide developers with easy access to information needed to build smartphone applications that will be compatible with automakers who have adopted the technology.?

Revving up accessible information
Ford developed SmartDeviceLink to make it simpler for major automakers to adopt its smartphone app interface standard and develop in-vehicle features that will augment customers? driving experiences.

Ford first approached the software development process with the intent of allowing its customers to control and access their favorite mobile apps by way of voice commands, a goal accomplished with the rollout of a complementary app for the 2017 Escape SUV, the first model to receive the brand's Sync Connect treatment (see story).

Now, Ford hopes to offer software accessibility to its industry partners as it continues its efforts to innovate within the connected car industry.

The Ford AppLink platform ? which is part of Ford Sync ? was built on SmartDeviceLink?s open-source software, and enables drivers to access their most-used mobile apps through touch-screen interface or voice commands. AppLink is currently integrated within more than six million Ford vehicles worldwide, and is projected to reach 28 million more cars by 2020.

Toyota is the premier automaker to leverage the SmartDeviceLink platform, and is planning to introduce the technology to its own vehicles in the near future. Mazda, Subaru and Honda are several of the other manufacturers considering similar integrations.

Raising industry standards
Third-party developers that take advantage of the SmartDeviceLink platform will also score access to a slew of other popular apps, such as iHeartRadio, AccuWeather, Pandora and Spotify. This means that other automakers will be able to integrate these smartphone apps into their own connected car offerings, thereby giving consumers a more enjoyable driving experience.

The SmartDeviceLink platform is operating system- and device-agnostic.

Ford?s move to roll out the new open-source software could be indicative of the company?s desire to maintain a leading stronghold over the connected car sector.

For example, Visa?s new developer platform, which offers third-party companies the ability to sift through hundreds of commerce-related APIs, suggests the brand?s desire to one-up its competitors in the mobile payments space by creating a massive network of partnerships (see story).

Ford could potentially end up raising the standard for connected car technology this year.

?The adoption of SmartDeviceLink means that there is a connected car standardization that benefits both customers and developers,? Ms. Kozleski said. ?Adopting and supporting the SmartDeviceLink protocol will provide automakers worldwide with immediate access to a growing ecosystem of compatible smartphone apps to enhance the in-car experience for their own customers.

?The more automakers that adopt SmartDeviceLink will lead to greater global scale, making the platform attractive to developers and drive innovation for improved customer experience,? she said.