While other automakers turn to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to integrate smartphones into the car, Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. on Wednesday announced a partnership to use a Ford-developed app system.
The Japanese automaker said it will explore the adoption of SmartDeviceLink — an open-source version of Ford’s AppLink software system — so drivers can easily access smartphone apps using their car’s infotainment system. The software could appear on future Toyota and Lexus vehicles.
SDL was developed by Ford and Livio, a Ford subsidiary.
“We continue to investigate new technologies that both enhance and safeguard the driving experience of Toyota and Lexus owners,” Shigeki Terashi, Toyota’s senior managing officer, said in a statement. “The in-car app market is quickly evolving. Developing robust, flexible, safe and user-friendly connected services is a priority for us, and one that we believe is shared by Ford, Livio and other contributors to SDL technology.”
The SDL technology allows drivers to play music, look up directions and check weather by using display screens, buttons and voice recognition on their car or truck’s infotainment system.
“Dashboard interface design and smartphone connectivity are key elements for product differentiation within the industry,” Don Butler, executive director, Ford connected vehicle and services, said in a statement. “At Ford, we view all aspects of time behind the wheel as core to the experience we provide customers. We’re pleased other members of the industry feel the same way, and look forward to working together to drive even more support for the SDL developer community.”
Ford’s AppLink technology is available on more than 5 million Ford vehicles in North America, South America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. The automaker said vehicles in Taiwan, New Zealand and Thailand are set to get the technology this year.
In 2013, Ford announced it would become the first American automaker to hand over its AppLink software to an open-source project that other automakers could access.
This isn’t the first time Toyota and Ford have teamed up. In 2011, the automakers agreed to collaborate on the development of next generation standards for in-car telematics.