Ford is getting into the open-developer game at CES this week in addition to GM as they too announce a developer program to enhance future vehicles.
Utilizing the SYNC connectivity system and AppLink application programming interface, Ford is launching an open developer program enabling software developers to directly interface with the vehicle and create apps that will enhance the driving experience.
“The Ford Developer Program marks a dramatic shift in how we will innovate new features and add value to our vehicles throughout the ownership period,” said Hau Thai-Tang, vice president of Engineering, Ford Global Product Development. “Opening the car to developers gives consumers a direct voice and hand in the creation of apps that can help our products remain relevant, up to date and valuable to our customers.”
According to Ford, millennials – those aged 18-33 – are particularly interested in customizing their experience with consumer products. Four in 10 respondents to a survey of millennials by Edelman 8095 want the opportunity to influence the products they use. Selecting and using apps is one of the easiest ways to personalize the functionality of both communications devices and vehicles they connect to for a unique user experience.
Ford has been in beta testing of the new SDK and says there are now more than three dozen AppLink-compatible apps publicly available on iOS and Android and Ford engineers are ready to open the platform to the vast ecosystem of developers to try it out.
“Our focus is to enhance the driving experience by minimizing the distractions caused by hand-held usage of smartphones while driving,” said Julius Marchwicki, global product manager for Ford SYNC AppLink. “We know consumers are using apps such as music and navigation while driving; therefore, by making AppLink available to developers, we can help ensure relevant apps can now be voice-controlled.”
Currently, the three main categories of AppLink-enabled apps include: News and Information, Music and Entertainment, Navigation and Location.
Once a developer has incorporated AppLink code into the app, it will be submitted for review by Ford engineers to ensure it works properly and is suitable for use in the vehicle. Once approved, Ford will then work with the developer to provide a distribution license, after which the app is submitted to the relevant app marketplace.
“Our Developer Program is open and available to anyone around the world,” said John Ellis, global technologist for Ford Connected Services. “A key advantage of our approach is the ability to quickly have relevant apps and services to support the launch of AppLink in Europe and Asia, by making it easy for local developers to tell us what the most popular and important apps are to suit the buyers in that region.”