Ford started to release its Software Development Kit (SDK) to app developers

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 11, 2010

If you’re looking for a safer and smarter in-car connectivity experience, then it would delight you to know that Ford has begun releasing its Software Development Kit (SDK) to app developers.

Existing smartphone apps can then be enabled for voice command and control through Ford SYNC. Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of Global Product Development, said that it cannot be denied that more drivers will find a way to use their devices and their apps while in the car.

Kuzak pointed out that drivers can go the unsafe route or they can use voice-activated solutions such as Ford SYNC so that they can “keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.”

Ford has received over 1,000 submissions from interested parties who want to modify existing apps or create all-new apps that can interface with Ford SYNC through AppLink.

What AppLink does is access mobile apps stored on a user’s smartphone, and then makes them controllable through the SYNC voice recognition system. The first apps to be incorporated the SYNC API are Pandora Internet radio, Stitcher smart radio and Orangatame’s OpenBeak. More are expected to follow shortly.

Driving is becoming more convenient for Ford drivers. Technologies such as the Ford SYNC now enable them to access information on their smartphones and other mobile devices without taking their eyes off the road or hands off the wheel.

According to Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of Global Product Development, the company’s collaboration with other firms that can bring about the technologies necessary for connectivity for drivers will bring about a beneficial solution for the customer who both drives and owns a mobile device through which he or she can access important information and through which they communicate with other people.

Kuzak reiterated Ford’s commitment to its customers and stated that the company is joining forces with firms in the technology sector to bring about technologies that can truly benefit its customers.

Press Release

Ford Releases SDK to Next Set of App Developers; Shares Vision for Future In-Car App Creation

is starting to release its Software Development Kit (SDK) to a new set of interested smartphone app developers so they can modify existing apps to work hands-free using voice recognition through Ford SYNC for safer command and control while driving.

The SDK release marks the latest move by Ford to forge a more open collaborative bond with the wireless, consumer electronics and app developer communities to create a safer and smarter in-car connectivity experience that leverages the mobile devices customers own and love.

"We know we can do better things for our customers by allying with the companies that provide the devices and services they already use, trust and value," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of Global Product Development, to the wireless telecommunications community at the annual CTIA Enterprise and Applications Conference. "What we see emerging as we explore new ways to safely enhance connectivity and reinvent the driving experience is a mutually beneficial 'collaborative community' where our shared customer -- anyone who drives a car and owns a smartphone -- is the true beneficiary."

With drivers spending nearly three hours per day in their vehicle according to a 2009 Arbitron National In-Car Study, there's no doubt customers will be tempted to use their mobile device in the car. In fact, recent studies already indicate 46 percent of adult smartphone users have apps on their phones and 36 percent of those admit to using those apps while commuting.

"More and more drivers will find a way to use their devices and their apps while in the car," said Kuzak. "They can do it unsafely, or they can do it through safer voice-activated solutions such as Ford SYNC -- keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel."

Understanding the potential of the SYNC application programming interface (API), app developers have been clamoring for the Ford SDK since the company announced the launch of the SYNC Developer website (www.syncmyride.com/developer). Since then, Ford has received and is reviewing more than 1,000 submissions from interested parties looking to modify existing apps or create all-new apps that can successfully interface with Ford SYNC through AppLink. As the software that leverages the SYNC API, AppLink can access mobile apps stored on a user's smartphone, and allows them to be controlled through the SYNC voice recognition system.

Pandora Internet radio, Stitcher smart radio and Orangatame's OpenBeak are the first apps to incorporate the SYNC API, with more on the way in coming months. To keep the user experience seamless, Ford will leverage existing app stores for distribution of updated SYNC-enabled versions of apps. Owners of SYNC AppLink-equipped cars simply download the enabled app through the appropriate app store for their smartphone's operating system.

The driving environment

Being cautious with the SDK, Ford has developed stringent self-imposed guidelines for in-car app development, considering a whole set of parameters that make sense for the driving environment.

"Our goal is not to have thousands of apps available for the car," said Kuzak at the CTIA conference, "because there are strict limitations on what should be allowed while driving."

Ford is in the process of evaluating the potential of existing apps that are appropriate for in-car use. Categories include:

Personalized entertainment such as Pandora Internet radio
Personalized information and news such as Stitcher smart radio or Orangatame's OpenBeak
Location-based services including navigation, traffic and business searches
Notifications and alerts leveraging SYNC's ability to mash up vehicle information, GPS locations and more, all to provide the driver with customized information and guidance
Financial apps that, for example, provide alerts such as stock price drops or overdrafts and, in the future, drive-by payments
Scheduling and planning apps that could include notifications of flight status, for instance, in the event flights are delayed or rescheduled

Further down the road, Ford will also examine the potential of apps that can provide exciting new levels of safety knowledge as well as improvements in driver productivity and convenience.

"We know our customers want connectivity from a convenience perspective and need it from a safety perspective," said Kuzak. "We want to leverage growing network speeds to create a world of apps on wheels that makes the vehicle experience simpler, safer, more productive and convenient."

Topics: ford, technology, app

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