Creating a universal standard for smartphone integration in cars is one of the biggest challenges facing automakers at the moment. Competing standards muddy the waters and create headaches for phone manufacturers, software developers, and consumers. Ford is working to solve this problem with their SmartDeviceLink open-source software, and Toyota is the first manufacturer outside of Ford itself to adopt the standard for its vehicles.

SmartDeviceLink, like Sync AppLink in Ford products, allows integration of apps like Spotify or AccuWeather from your smartphone to the car. This means the apps from your phone can be controlled through the steering wheel, infotainment, or with voice commands.

With a shared platform, apps can be more easily integrated across vehicles from competing automakers. Think of SmartDeviceLink like the Android operating system for smartphones. Multiple manufacturers using and customizing a standard backend software. With Toyota's adoption of Ford's software, software developers can create one program that runs on millions of vehicles. Toyota plans to have SmartDeviceLink in vehicles around 2018.

While Toyota is the first automaker to adopt Ford's SmartDeviceLink, it isn't the only one interested. Automakers PSA Peugeot Citroën, Honda, Subaru, and Mazda have all expressed interest in the platform. Parts suppliers QNX Software Systems and Xevo, like Toyota, have agreed to start using the standard. Ford has already partnered with QNX, a subsidiary of Blackberry, on developing the software that will power the company's upcoming autonomous fleet.

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