Automakers aren't necessarily known for their sharing skills unless some sort of mutual agreement is in place, but it seems that Ford is looking to create a universal architecture based on its Sync AppLink on which other companies (including rival automakers) can run in-car apps free of charge. With the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show going on, Wired sat down with Ford's Doug VanDagens, director of connected services, who talked about what such a tech-sharing plan could do for Ford and the industry.

Giving up some of the technology behind Sync AppLink would obviously put Ford in a place to become a bigger name in cabin tech, but on the grander scheme of things, it could help bring more apps to users. Currently, each automaker uses its own technologies, which means that creating an app for each system would be expensive and time consuming – a reason why current in-car apps are limited to bigger names like Pandora and iHeart Radio. Ford's plan would not only make it easier for app developers and automakers, it would also open the door for more aftermarket head units to improve infotainment capabilities as well.

When asked by Autoblog, a Ford rep at CES said that while other automakers could potentially use their open-source software, Ford didn't necessarily expect it to happen.

To get the full boatload of details about Ford's proposed tech-sharing plan, head on over to Wired.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 22 Comments
      Brodz
      • 1 Year Ago
      Taking a page out of Microsoft's new book. If you open it up to people, then the benefits come back to you. So now instead of putting in all the dollars and hours developing their own apps, now anyone who makes a great app for Sync will make the system inherently beater, more attractive to buyers, and by extension the cars too. It's a good move by Ford. But now that every car maker has their own system. I can't help feel it's too late, hopefully not.
      clquake
      • 1 Year Ago
      Given Ford's track record with electronics, I think's it more Ford programmers asking for real help, rather than creating an open source project.
        protovici
        • 1 Year Ago
        @clquake
        Ignorant comment. I guess thats the same thing as all the other open sourced code systems. Because their asking for help too. NO, means allowing more consumers to develop their own system for their liking. Ford is huge in the aftermarket world. Not only mechanical, but also electrical. Case and point, check out the loan documents from Ford and lets use GM. There is a clause in each document stating in Ford any aftermarket parts can be obtained in case of repo and GM states you cannot add any aftermarket part unless through GM. One of many reasons Ford opens the door to add ons because of the money made after the sale of their product. Fact up instead of stupid posts.
          clquake
          • 1 Year Ago
          @protovici
          With proper testing, these issues could have been avoided, but they released it anyways, and if the loan docs from Ford recognize that aftermarket parts are the norm for their cars, then what is that saying about OEM quality?
          protovici
          • 1 Year Ago
          @protovici
          It is the principle when referring to the loans and it is on Ford/GM's paper. I have had sync and it is very usable. Of course there are problems to be fixed with every new electronic. I never seen a piece of electronic come out and be fully successful from day one. Dosen't happen. Plus, since there are multiple different apps and multiple different personalities, why would you not go open source??
          clquake
          • 1 Year Ago
          @protovici
          Loan docs are also lender specific, doesn't apply here.
        merlot066
        • 1 Year Ago
        @clquake
        You do realize MyFord Touch has nothing to do with any of this, and Ford's other general electronics are way better than anything Delco has ever pushed out. The concept isn't that complicated, AppLink is a program to allow voice command integration through SYNC for apps on smartphones. SYNC and Voice Commands work fine, this is just an extension so people can use voice commands for apps like Pandora (and more in the future, which is the point of Ford making the platform open source).
        Brodz
        • 1 Year Ago
        @clquake
        Well... no. By opening it up to the dev community, it spurs innovation, and everyone wins... especially Ford. This move just makes sense.
      zoom_zoom_zoom
      • 1 Year Ago
      I can't imagine another company being desperate enough to resort to using Stink.
        Cayman
        • 1 Year Ago
        @zoom_zoom_zoom
        a) I wouldn't think Ford is desperate, they've been on quite a roll lately b) They aren't trying to make Sync a standard, but rather create a standard for add-on apps based on their AppLink
        XJ Yamaha
        • 1 Year Ago
        @zoom_zoom_zoom
        Considering it has been a pretty good selling point for them over the past few years, i'd say its got a bit of demand. I'd almost guarantee you've never used....and you do realize it's not necessary to use if you buy it in a vehicle right?
      Polly Prissy Pants
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's stunning how far ahead Ford is in the technology arena. It's like everyone else still thinks it's 1997.
      RudyH
      • 1 Year Ago
      Dear Ford, QNX, look it up. Do a little research and realize how big this is going to be getting. Maybe Blackberry 10 will end up only being a niche market, but the rest of the automotive market is giving it the thumbs up. Have a nice day!
        Josh
        • 1 Year Ago
        @RudyH
        Dear irrelevant tech pusher, 2010 called - they wanted to know where the next gen Blackberry OS is. I also have 2011, 2012, and 2013 waiting for that to. Just a heads up. have a nice day!
      Jobu
      • 1 Year Ago
      Insert joke here _____. Seriously though, this is the wave of the future, the days of being stuck with an already outdated head unit/Nav setup are coming to an end. Mercifully!
        Cayman
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jobu
        I really hope so, but auto makers don't ever seem to realize the advantages of standardizing. The last common component I can think of that they've voluntarily adopted is the cigarette lighter.
      Eltunasto
      • 1 Year Ago
      This could really come back to bite them... Just opening your systems up for people to hack into your on board systems...
        kuntknife
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Eltunasto
        Presumably the APIs only have access to HVAC and infotainment system. Sure, there could be logging or messing around with navigation and GPS data, or you could try and heat your occupants to death, but I don't see how you could affect the *driving*. I'm giving Ford a huge salute here. It's not easy for a company to open something like this up, but there's a huge amount of potential!
          Greg
          • 1 Year Ago
          @kuntknife
          On some models, a lot more goes through Ford's infotainment than just climate & audio. It truly seems that they want to put all controls (including lighting & vehicle settings--e.g., traction control) into the infotainment like Tesla did with the Model S.
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