Ford opens up Sync to app developersTue, 08 Jan 2013 00:00:00 -0800
Think you can make a killer app for Ford Sync? Ford just made it a whole lot easier.
On the day before the International CES opened in Las Vegas, Ford introduced the Ford Developer Program, which makes the Sync platform available to any and all comers who want to take a whack at it, including other carmakers.
Developers will use the Sync connectivity system and Applink application programming interface. The new open developer program lets software scribes directly interface with the vehicle to create apps. Ford provides technical support from its engineers as well as testing and verification for free. There's even a Technology Development kit – basically a Sync in a box - a mockup of a dashboard console you can use to test your app.
It could mean more and better apps for Sync.
“The Ford Developer Program marks a dramatic shift in how we will innovate new features,” 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.”
Ford showcased several new apps for Sync during the press presentation in Las Vegas, ranging from big names such as Aha by Harman and a USA Today app to a program developed by a young couple called BeCouply, which suggests dating activities.
The possibilities are endless, not only for app developers but for other carmakers and Tier 1 suppliers. Previously, carmakers had to develop their own platforms on which to build in-car infotainment systems, which was and is costly. So, in the same way carmakers use one platform for several car models, they could use one infotainment platform in several cars, only this one would be from Ford. It could save carmakers money and simplify development, if competitors cotton to the idea of competition. Who knows? It was just announced last night.
A safety advantage is that with Sync, as with some competing platforms, use of apps while driving could be voice-controlled, allowing the driver to keep eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
“Our focus is to enhance the driving experience by minimizing the distractions caused by handheld 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.”
You can download the Ford Developer Program at http://developer.ford.com.
By Mark Vaughn