Ever wondered why there’s not an ‘app’ for controlling your car? With Ford’s recent AppLink 2.0 announcement at the 2013 Computex show in Taipei, it appears how we interact with our cars is set to change, probably for ever, and it’s coming to a Ford near you.
Ford’s AppLink 2.0 technology opens the floodgates for smartphone developers to create new apps that can be used to enhance and personalise a driver’s experience.
This includes apps on many flavours of smartphones, including iOS, Android and Blackberry 10, with Windows Phone 8 under consideration.
To get the ball rolling, Ford announced three new apps that leverage AppLink 2.0 to extend their reach from the smartphone to the dashboard including Pandora, TuneIn Radio and Kaliki.
With the Pandora app, customers can stream Pandora personalised radio via Bluetooth to their AppLink 2.0 enabled car stereo, and select their favourite artist, track, comedian or genre, as well as vote for the music they like.
The TuneIn app lets people listen to music, sports, talk and news from around the world, with over 70,000 AM, FM, HD and Internet radio stations, along with over two million on-demand programs streaming from every continent.
AppLink 2.0 equipped vehicles also link to Kaliki, which is a smartphone app for Android devices that curates top news stories from major newspapers and magazines, and provides an audio version for on-demand playback in the vehicle.
Ford’s Ed Pleet, Director of Connected Services across Africa, Asia Pacific and Europe, sees AppLink 2.0 as the ‘most recent development’, to enhance Ford’s existing in-car SYNC system, which currently enables people to use voice commands to control in-car entertainment, communications, navigation, emergency services and vehicle status.
AppLlink 2.0 creates a ‘bridge’ between SYNC and the smartphone app developer community, opening up the potential for innovative and imaginative apps. “The sky’s the limit”, said Pleet, who is excited by app integration and the endless creativity of the smartphone app development community.
Pleet expects that apps will provide drivers with more ‘personalisation’, where “…sharing a car with other people means you can get into the exact same vehicle and have totally different experience.”
In terms of driver safety, apps using the AppLink 2.0 system will be carefully controlled so that they provide new utility to drivers in a way that does not distract them from safely operating the vehicle. As such, most will probably rely on voice commands, natural language processing and text to speech technology, and extend existing popular apps into our cars.
The AppLink software development kit, available to registered developers, will provide the foundation for leveraging in-car capabilities including:
Voice pass-through – Offers the ability for app developers to take advantage of increasingly popular cloud-based voice-activated services for in-app experiences
Vehicle Data Access – Access to vehicle data allows developers – with customer consent – to take advantage of the rich data available from vehicle sensors
In-vehicle notifications – Developers will be able to send ‘push’ notifications to drivers through the vehicle audio system and display
To make it easier for people to find new apps created for AppLink 2.0 equipped vehicles, Ford has also released the AppLink Catalog app, which organises apps in one place and automatically connects customers to the app store of their choosing. The catalog will also help AppLink developers put their creations in front of new customers.
AppLink will be rolled out globally and Australia will get it early 2014.
Valens Quinn attended the 2013 Computex conference in Taipei as a guest of Ford Australia.