Ford said on Monday (4 January, 2015) a “first wave of automakers and industry suppliers – led by Toyota – is adopting its SmartDeviceLink software, claiming it was “a huge step toward giving consumers more choice in how they connect and control their smartphone apps on the road”.
SmartDeviceLink is open-source software on which the SYNC AppLink platform is built, provding consumers an easy way to access smartphone apps using voice commands. Automotive suppliers QNX Software Systems (one of a number of ‘connected car technology’ suppliers just-auto visited in Canada last November) and UIEvolution also are adopting the technology, with plans to integrate it into their products.
Adopting this technology allows automakers and suppliers to accelerate an industry standard that will increase the number of apps available for in-vehicle use. With common industry software, developers can focus on creating the best experience on one platform which will be available to customers of many brands.
PSA Peugeot Citroën is investigating adding SmartDeviceLink to its vehicles. Honda, Mazda and Subaru also are considering adding the software, Ford said.
“The true benefit of a common smartphone app communications interface is that it creates an industry standard – enabling great experiences for customers while allowing different companies the freedom to differentiate their individual brands,” said Ford’s connected vehicle and services chief Don Butler. “Ford is making the software available as open-source because customers throughout the industry benefit if everybody speaks one language.”
SmartDeviceLink software, including AppLink, is part of the automaker’s Smart Mobility – the plan to improve connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience, plus data and analytics.
Industry standard benefits consumers
SmartDeviceLink-equipped vehicles enable drivers to manage popular smartphone apps using display screens, buttons and/or voice recognition commands. Popular music apps such as Spotify and iHeartRadio, information apps including AccuWeather and MLB, retail apps such as Domino’s, and a growing list of apps from around the world are already available for AppLink users.
Those apps become more readily available in vehicles equipped with SmartDeviceLink because developers have access to higher volumes of vehicles and new capabilities. For automakers and suppliers, adoption broadens the choice for customers in how they connect and control their smartphones while on the move. Adoption also supports increased quality and security of the software as multiple parties can collaborate on improvements.
As part of SYNC [initially derided for poor user interface design but since much improved – ed], AppLink already is available in over five million Ford vehicles globally. The technology is expected to reach 28m more vehicles by 2020.
Industry-wide adoption of SmartDeviceLink will help the technology spread to new markets such as China, Taiwan, New Zealand and Thailand.
Later this year, Ford will introduce the next version of AppLink based on SmartDeviceLink software, allowing customers to access compatible navigation apps – as they do on smartphones – on in-vehicle touch screens. The upgrade brings smartphone navigation to the car.
Growing the connected car community
By making SmartDeviceLink software available to the open-source community, Ford is providing the industry a way to maintain differentiated, brand-specific entertainment and connectivity systems that deliver on customer expectations for smartphone app integration – regardless of smartphone.
Livio, a wholly owned Ford subsidiary, continues to manage the open-source project by working with SmartDeviceLink adopters to build the appropriate interfaces into each unique vehicle environment.
“Developing a safer and more secure in-car smartphone connectivity service – which better matches individual vehicle features – is exactly the value and advantage an automaker can offer customers,” said Shigeki Terashi, executive vice president, Toyota Motor Corporation. “We expect that many companies share our view and will participate in the industry SmartDeviceLink collaboration.”
Ottawa, Canada-based QNX Software Systems, a BlackBerry subsidiary, offers a comprehensive portfolio of infotainment, telematics, safety and acoustics solutions deployed in more than 60m vehicles worldwide.
Ove 40 automakers use QNX Software Systems which employs the operating system for SYNC 3. QNX plans to integrate SmartDeviceLink into its QNX CAR platform for infotainment, which supports a wide variety of OEM systems. This could help to rapidly migrate the interface to millions of vehicles around the world, Ford said.