Apps are everywhere these days - on our computers, our smartphones, our tablets - but in one area, they seem to be noticeably absent. Why haven't we done a better job of leveraging app-driven technology in our cars?
Ford's Sync AppLink platform was launched three years ago, but like those of its competitors, its system supports few apps. So at last week's Consumer Electronics Show, Ford and General Motors announced that they would open their APIs and dashboards to outside developers, in a bid to grow app integration in their vehicles.
The automakers will provide developers with an SDK, using an online portal. Ford will offer support through its own jacAPPS mobile app development house, as well as its app-testing partner, Cetecom. Ford plans to focus on apps that provide news and information, music and entertainment, and navigation and location. The company will "instantly deny" apps that use video, too much texting and gaming in an effort to limit distracted driving, according to Julius Marchwicki, Ford’s global product manager for AppLink.
Ford even has plans to offer its AppLink API to its competitors as a common development platform, much as Google used its Android platform for the smartphone app development sector.
GM hopes that by offering its own set of APIs to developers, it will accelerate the rate at which apps can be added to its cars - even those that have already been purchased.
Potential partners for GM's app catalog include iHeart Radio, TuneIn, Slacker, and The Weather Channel. But once it launches the new platform, the company expects the availability of apps to grow quickly.