Ford to Open Up Sync App Development to General Public

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In a very interesting move by the Blue Oval, Ford is opening up their Sync communications and entertainment platform to the developer community. The plan is to create an app store where Ford owners will be able to download third-party applications, which enhance the existing features of Sync.
The result of a partnership with Microsoft, Ford Sync is based on the existing Microsoft Auto platform, which has What will your iPod be able to do with the impending Sync software? (Photo: Ford)
been customized and extended by Ford. Sync, which can now be found on over twenty different Ford models, acts as a standard platform that allows drivers to interface with phones and digital media players using voice commands, steering wheel controls, or radio controls.

In a show of clever forethought, the Sync platform was designed from the outset with an open API (Application Programming Interface). The API is the equivalent to a toolbox for software developers. The advantage of having an API is that the tools in the toolbox are the same, regardless of whether the Sync software is being developed for a phone made by Apple, Google, Microsoft, or any other manufacturer. In the end, an API reduces the number of hurdles for developers and allows them to focus more on realizing the unique idea and features the software is to represent.

Stream internet radio into your car anytime and anywhere with the forthcoming Sync software. (Photo: Ford)
Okay, so this all sounds good, but what can this Sync ecosystem actually produce? Ford recently demonstrated some application examples, one of which is a social-networking app called, "Follow Me" in which one phone would act as a leader and the other phone as a follower. If, for example, the follower was separated from leader by a yellow light turning red, the follower would connect to the leader's phone and turn-by-turn directions required to reach the leader's position would be issued via the car's audio system. Another app, named SyncCast, is for those who are not satisfied with standard or satellite radio stations. It utilizes a phone's internet connection to allow internet radio to be streamed into your car's audio system, anytime and anywhere. Considering the fact that these two applications were create by university students over a three-month time frame, it is clear that there is great potential to be had when Sync development is opened up to the imagination of software developers around the world.

Ford's partnership with Microsoft has never been exclusive and it was just a matter of time before someone else followed in Ford's footsteps. With Hyundai-Kia and Microsoft set to announce the Korean automaker's new flavor of the Microsoft Auto ice cream (named UVO) in one week, the question for Ford then becomes one of differentiation. Opening up the development of applications, which enhance the existing Sync ecosystem, ends up being a very smart strategic response for them on several different fronts. Firstly, when opening up a technology platform to the development community, the end result is usually positive, drawing upon the creative forces of the world at large instead of having it limited only to Ford's internal teams. Building upon the notion of a thriving Sync software ecosystem, the widespread adoption and use of Sync applications by Ford owners will have the effect of creating a more personalized experience when driving in their Ford versus, say using Kia's forthcoming UVO system.

All other manufacturers will then be wearing the same shoes as the current iPhone and iPhone App Store wannabes that are scrambling to recreate what Apple has pioneered. In short, if Ford is successful, the other manufacturers will be playing catch up. Although it still remains to be seen how this strategy will play out for Ford, it certainly has the potential to be a "game-changer" for all car manufacturers moving into the future.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Ford, Sync,

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