Ford Opening Up SYNC For App Developers
January 8, 2013

Ford Opening Up SYNC For App Developers

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Ford didn't focus on the future of driverless cars during its Press Event at the 2013 International CES, but instead gave a glimpse into another development in its SYNC system.

The age-old automaker announced at the event that it would be opening up its in-car device to app developers.

Ford said it is ready to expand its app offerings, allowing the automaker to pull from a larger developer community, and open up the SYNC system with even more creativity.

Now, third-party software developers will be able to create apps to interface directly with Ford vehicles, and create apps for the SYNC AppLink platform.

The program will allow developers to create apps that work with Ford's AppLink interface to help enhance the driver's 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,” Hau Thai-Tang, vice president of Engineering, Ford Global Product Development, said in a statement. “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.”

Part of the push to get these apps out there, Ford said, is to ensure that users keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, instead of their smartphone.

“Our focus is to enhance the driving experience by minimizing the distractions caused by hand-held usage of smartphones while driving,” Julius Marchwicki, global product manager for Ford SYNC AppLink, said in a statement. “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.”

Third party developers can join the Ford Developer Program by registering at its website, and downloading the AppLink SDK. Ford's SDK includes code libraries and documentation that will allow a mobile app to "talk" with the company's AppLink vehicles.

All of the apps will be reviewed by Ford to ensure that they both work properly, and help promote safety. The automaker said that it will deny apps with video content, rich imagery or anything that involves heavy text input.

AppLink includes three main categories, including News and Information, Music and Entertainment, and Navigation and Location.

As part of the event, Ford also announced that it already has a few new partners that have developed apps for the SYNC AppLink system, including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Amazon Cloud Player, Aha Radio, Rhapsody, Glympse, and BeCouply.

The Wall Street Journal app provides live and on demand video programming content to Ford drivers, while the USA Today app brings in stories read by real people.