Ford is opening up its developer program for Sync, its voice-controlled in-car entertainment system that integrates with iOS, Android and Blackberry apps and at the same time is offering the system to other car manufacturers. Is this enough to make it an attractive proposition?
Ford's Sync AppLink API dates from 2010 but so far there is a limited number of apps on offer, primarily for audio streaming. At this week's CES Ford announced that it is opening up its Developer Program, which has until now been invitation-only, to the wider developer community.
Ford is looking for apps in three categories: news and information, music and entertainment, and navigation and location. Julius Marchwicki, Ford’s global product manager for AppLink, was quick to point out that apps that incorporate video, excessive text and gaming would be instantly rejected in a bid to reduce the risk of distracted driving. those interested in porting suitable apps to the Ford platform will have to be prepared to go though a fairly restrictive licensing process.
After developers have incorporated the Sync AppLink code into a proposed app, they submit it to Ford engineers for review. Ford will certify the app is bug-free and appropriate for automobiles. Once approved, Ford will work with the developer to provide a distribution license and get the app on the market.
Sync, which is a Microsoft-powered platform, is included in every Ford vehicle sold which gives developers a fairly large market to target and if other manufacturers take up Ford's invitation to join in then it will be an even more promising prospect. However, Ford doesn't have an exclusive hold on the market.
General Motors also announced at CES that it will offer a set of APIs to allow third-party developers to create apps for the infotainment systems in its vehicles. Remote APIs, as opposed to the In-Vehicle APIs, are not going to be available until late 2013 so GM is likely to experience a slow start.