Car-manufacturer Ford is releasing its Software Development Kit (SDK) to a new set of app developers so they can enable existing smartphone apps for voice command and control through Ford SYNC. It has invited them to build applications for its Sync in-car voice-activated computer. So far, Pandora, Stitcher, and OpenBeak have built apps, but Ford is now offering the SDK to others. People with cars that have Sync can use those apps in the cars, directing them using voice commands.
According to Ford, “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. "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."
"More and more drivers will find a way to use their devices and their apps while in the car," added 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."
Ford, till now, 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.
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.
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, "because there are strict limitations on what should be allowed while driving."
"We know our customers want connectivity from a convenience perspective and need it from a safety perspective," concluded 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."
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