Ford’s in-car platform SYNC is open to developers (strangely only Android and iOS) to write applications that integrate with the car. It wasn’t too long ago that developers needed a TDK (Technology Development Kit) a hardware box that emulated the vehicle systems. Earlier this year Ford created an AppLink Emulator to bring it up to speed with other modern development platforms.
Currently the AppLink Emulator is at v0.4.0 so it’s still very much early days. Developers can simulate Sync voice commands and write apps that leverage the platform. While integrating with Sync via AppLink is great, the real exciting opportunity is when they give developers access to MyFordTouch and have your app take over the in-dash display.
No for the good news. This week at Ford’s ‘Go Further’ event, I discussed the platform with a member of the Asia Pacific Sync team. He confirmed that Ford are investing more resources into the team and they are increasing the cadence of releases. This means you can expect the platform to develop rapidly which is a result of increased pressure from competitors.
It still seems crazy that Sync is built on Microsoft’s Windows Auto platform, yet Windows Phone is not supported. When I raised this issue with the Ford staff member, he very clearly pointed the finger at Microsoft. It’s widely thought that it’s simply a decision by Ford to support the platforms with the biggest market share, but this isn’t the case at all. He says it’s a platform restriction with the Bluetooth stack in the Windows Phone SDK. Given the relationship between the two companies, it’s surprising they can’t get this resolved, even through some non-public API’s.
So it’s great to hear Ford are investing more into the platform and only with great developer support will they expand from an experiment, to a clear point of difference when buying a vehicle. Personally I’m keen to write an app and as soon as they release a WP8 SDK for Ford Sync, I’ll be on it. I can’t wait to get stuck into AppLink 2.0 and leverage the vehicle sensors to surface data in new and interesting ways.
For more information, check out https://developer.ford.com