“Ford is a leader in this space and they chose a strategic decision to move like Google did with Android and be as open as possible,” Mark Boyadjis, an analyst at IHS Automotive, told Wired. “Getting these systems embedded and perfected is not something that can be leveraged by Ford or their technology partner alone. This has to be an open environment.”
Even though more automakers are offering in-dash app platforms, there’s little incentive for developers to create specific apps for cars. Developing apps for the relatively limited number of vehicle platforms available – and having to re-code for each automaker’s platform – pales in comparison to creating even a decently successful app for Apple’s App Store or Google Play. It’s the classic chicken-and-egg dilemma, and why most automakers offer only a handful of generic apps like Pandora.
Ford is establishing an open-source Genivi project that will contain the code and documentation necessary to implement AppLink software into any vehicle’s infotainment system for iOS and Android devices. The code, known as SmartPhoneLink, will be released under a BSD open-source license.
“Developers will have access to the software code for the audio head unit and the set of APIs for the smartphone apps and can implement it in their own way,” says Doug VanDagens, global director of Ford Connected Services. “This announcement is about the vehicle-side software being agnostic … and can run on Windows Embedded, QNX, Linux or other automotive OS.” VanDagens added that the AppLink brand will only be used for Ford and Lincoln vehicles. “But when it comes to the end product,” Boyadjis notes, “there will be unique Ford elements that make it different or better.”