Automakers are constantly striving towards integrating smartphones with automobile’s infotainment systems. Moving in the same direction, Ford had joined hands with Toyota to announce the formation of a SmartDeviceLink Consortium for smartphone app development for vehicles. The consortium will be a non-profit organisation and would act as an open source software platform giving consumers a huge variety of choice.

Ford was one of the first American automakers to open-source the software of a product by contributing the Applink software to the developer community back in 2013. The said SDL technology is based on the same Applink software contribution. It allows consumers to connect their smartphone apps using voice commands and in-vehicle displays. Further, apps such as Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, AccuWeather etc. are available to Ford AppLink users.

Speaking about the launch, Doug VanDagens, Global Director, Ford Connected Vehicle and Services said in a blog post,

Encouraging innovation is at the center of Ford’s decision to create SmartDeviceLink, and this consortium is a major step toward that goal,Consumers will win with new, innovative app experiences from increased collaboration and developer engagement.

First few of the automakers to join the consortium include Mazda Motor Corporation, PSA Group, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI) along with Suzuki Motor Corporation. Software assistantce will be provided by major companies such as Elektrobit, Luxoft, and Xevo as supplier members for the platform. Further, Letters of Intent to join has been signed by brands like Samsung-owned Harman, Panasonic, Pioneer and QNX.

Through the use of an open platform for suppliers and automakers could provide a uniform standard to integrate apps in vehicles. The quality and security of apps will be a responsibility of automakers which in turn is beneficial for customers. Developers will focus on vehicle display screen, steering wheel controls and voice recognition so that drivers can easily enjoy their apps while on road. Shigeki Tomoyama, president of Toyota’s Connected Company commented as under,

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.

A wholly owned subsidiary of Ford Motor Company, Livio will be managing and guiding the SmartDeviceLink Consortium and its members. Whereas Toyota aims to commercialize a telematics system using SDL by 2018.

Previously, Volvo launched Skype for its premium cars as to utilize time while driving. Further, Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto are widely recognized worldwide. If there is a industry-wide acceptance of SDL technology, app innovations could be integrated with millions of vehicles using a uniform standard.

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