Ford and Toyota Join Hands to Take on Apple and Google
The new consortium has already received support from fellow automotive firms Mazda, Peugeot, Citroen, Subaru and Suzuki.
Ford wants to bring some uniformity to the in-car app development process. (Photo: AFP Relaxnews)
The SmartDeviceLink Consortium is the brainchild of two of the world's biggest carmakers and it has just one aim, to lay down a set of universal rules and parameters for developers when it comes to creating smartphone apps that are compatible with cars' infotainment systems.
Announced on Wednesday, the new consortium has already received support from fellow automotive firms Mazda, Peugeot, Citroen, Subaru and Suzuki; while Harman, Panasonic and Pioneer, three of the world's leading aftermarket in-car entertainment system makers, have also signalled their intent to join.
"Encouraging innovation is at the centre of Ford's decision to create SmartDeviceLink, and this consortium is a major step toward that goal," said Doug VanDagens, global director, Ford Connected Vehicle and Services, and a board member of the consortium. "Consumers will win with new, innovative app experiences from increased collaboration and developer engagement."
Ford wants to use its AppLink software (originally developed exclusively for its own cars) as the basis for future app development. Since 2013 AppLink has been open source, meaning it's free for any developer to use. What's more, because it was developed by a car maker for cars, it can take apps to places where Google's Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay don't have permission to go, such as integrated into steering wheel controls or the car's existing voice recognition system.
"Connectivity between smartphones and the vehicle interface is one of the most important connected services. Using SmartDeviceLink, we can provide this service to our customers in a safe and secure manner. We are excited to collaborate with many auto manufacturers and suppliers who share our view," said Shigeki Tomoyama, president of Toyota's Connected Company.
Though Apple and Google have very rigid parameters that developers have to follow to make their apps suitable and safe for use with their car's smartphone mirroring systems, SmartDeviceLink will take things further still.
It will also mean that consumers won't necessarily need to have the latest Android or Apple handset with the latest operating system in order to run their favourite apps in their cars. Ford is already working with app developers to deliver apps based on SmartDeviceLink standards and Toyota on Wednesday confirmed that it will be following suit from the beginning of 2018.
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