Ford announced the launch of a Ford Developer Program for voice-activated in-car apps at the 2013 ICES.
The Ford initiative utilises the SYNC connectivity system and AppLink application programming interface (API) to launch an open developer program that enables software developers to directly interface with the vehicle and create apps that will enhance the driving experience.
Ford Developer Program
Ford has been in a beta test with a group of invited developers as they work out details of the software development kit (SDK), documentation and technical support systems. With more than three dozen AppLink-compatible apps publicly available on Apple iOS and Google Android, the SDK is now mature enough that Ford engineers are ready to let the vast ecosystem of developers try it out.
The Ford program is similar to those at technology companies including Apple, Google and Facebook. App developers who want to enable their creations for AppLink can now register at http://developer.ford.com to download the AppLink SDK. The SDK contains code libraries and documentation for the APIs that enable two-way communication between mobile apps and the vehicle including voice commands from the driver.
In addition to the libraries and documentation, developers will have access to technical support directly from Ford engineers and online discussion forums where they can share lessons learned with other developers.
Developers who have a great idea for an app but need some help building it can turn to jacAPPS. Michigan-based jacAPPS will be the recommended mobile app development house for the Ford Developer Program. The company has been chosen to provide development and technical support to third-party developers wanting to create voice-activated smartphone apps for Ford SYNC AppLink.
Currently, the three main categories of AppLink-enabled apps include: News and Information, Music and Entertainment, Navigation and Location.
Once a developer has incorporated AppLink code into the app, it will be submitted for review by Ford engineers to ensure it works properly and is suitable for use in the vehicle. Once approved, Ford will then work with the developer to provide a distribution license, after which the app is submitted to the relevant app marketplace.
New AppLink-enabled apps
In addition to the launch of the Developer Program, Ford has worked with several new partners to offer SYNC AppLink-equipped vehicle owners all-new voice-activated versions of their apps.
To showcase the global nature of the Developer Program and launch of AppLink in Europe and Asia later this year, Ford has announced a collaboration with Sina to enable its Weibo mobile app with AppLink for use in Ford vehicles to provide news, weather, microblogging and location-based services. Sina is an online media company serving China and the global Chinese communities. The digital media network of SINA.com (portal), SINA.cn (mobile portal) and Weibo.com (social media) enables Internet users to access professional media and user-generated content in multimedia formats from the Web and mobile devices and share their interests with friends and acquaintances.
Other new app partners that joined the existing Ford AppLink ecosystem include:
News and Information
Wall Street Journal – The Journal’s interactive app now features live and on-demand radio programming to stay on top of the latest news, markets, technology and lifestyle coverage from the nation’s largest newspaper
USA Today – Get 24/7 access to the latest USA TODAY content. Hear headlines from News, Money, Sports, Life, Tech and Travel categories. Play, pause, skip and go back within and between stories, for an easily customized listening experience
Kaliki – Radio talent reads audio versions of the most compelling articles from a variety of magazines and newspapers such as Shape Magazine, TV Guide, Men’s Fitness, OK! and Agence France-Presse. Launching with local papers in Detroit and Los Angeles with more publishers to come later in the year. All the content in Kaliki is free, with no subscription required
Music and Entertainment
Amazon Cloud Player – Drivers can listen to their personal music collection streamed from Amazon’s cloud-based music locker service
Aha Radio – Voice control of more than 30,000 stations of your favorite Internet content – radio, on-demand music services, news, entertainment, podcasts, audiobooks, social feeds, personalized restaurant, coffee, weather and hotel stations, and more
Rhapsody – Listen to millions of songs, plus radio stations and expert-created playlists from America’s top premium subscription music service on the road
Greater Media – Listen to live streams of favorite radio stations from around the United States
Navigation and Location
Glympse – Provide friends and family with an ETA and update of your location in real time on a dynamic map, completely hands-free
BeCouply – Get instant suggestions for cool date ideas in your area