FORD AND TOYOTA formed a group intended to provide technology enabling access to smartphone apps in vehicles.
Called SmartDeviceLink Consortium the group will provide an open-source platform to give auto makers and suppliers a uniform standard with which to integrate apps and enabling customers to access them via voice commands, steering wheel controls and in-vehicle screens.
Developers will be able to create in-vehicle apps using a single linking platform for all participating automakers. Broad backing for SmartDeviceLink will give developers scale “as their innovations could be applied to millions of vehicles worldwide”, the group said.
The move is significant as Apple and Google look to increase their influence in the vehicle app space through CarPlay and Android Auto respectively. SmartDeviceLink’s technology is built on Ford’s AppLink software, which was provided to the open-source community in 2013. AppLink is currently deployed in over five million vehicles, handling apps including Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio and AccuWeather.
Toyota plans to commercially offer an SDL-based telematics system “around 2018”.
Other companies to have voiced their support for the group include vehicle makers Mazda, PSA, Fuji Heavy Industries and Suzuki, and suppliers Elektrobit, Luxoft, and Xevo. Harman, Panasonic, Pioneer and QNX signed letters of intent to join.
Developers and automakers can contribute to development of the platform, increasing the quality and security of the software, the group said. Management will be provided by Livio, a software development start-up acquired by Ford in 2013. “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,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, president of Toyota’s connected business.