Using a SYNC-equipped Ford (like the Focus LW MKII or new Kuga) for hands-free calls and voice-activation is well and good — but AppLink takes it to the next level. For a while now, North Americans have been using it to control their favourite iPhone, Android and BlackBerry apps, but Aussies (and Asia) are still waiting. Ford cleared that up here at Computex, expanded its Developer Program into the Asia Pacific, and previewed some of the functionality in AppLink 2.0.
I travelled to Taipei as a guest of Ford to discover that it’s about attracting ever more developer support. In AppLink 2.0, new libraries will give app developers greater access to vehicle data, voice pass through (take a voice clip as a packet and send it off) and – yes – notifications. That means an app could push a notification to a vehicle… a Facebook update; an alert that there’s traffic ahead.
Ford is careful to point out that it’s focused on improving driver safety as part of the overall experience, so expect API restrictions. Maybe notifications only get pushed when you’re stopped at a traffic light, for instance. More potential approval guidelines were discussed when the Developer Program was first announced at CES.
You can learn more about the global Ford Developer Program at https://developer.ford.com/. While you once needed a big developer box, a software simulator has greatly improved accessibility.
Rounding out the developer push, Ford has now joined GENIVI: “a non-profit industry alliance committed to driving the broad adoption of an In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) open-source development platform” With car makers like GM, Hyundai, Nissan, BMW and Honda in its ranks, GENIVI seeks to reduce platform fragmentation and development costs.
Ford wouldn’t say if AppLink 2.0 will be the launch version in Australia. And Giz was told the “rollout plan hasn’t been officially determined yet” when we wondered if the Kuga — or upcoming models like the EcoSport and Fiesta — would be upgradable to AppLink 2.0. Not being able to upgrade via Ford’s standard USB thumb drive method would be disappointing.
When AppLink does arrive in Australia, Ford will release its AppLink catalogue phone app so you can easily find apps that are AppLink-enhanced. In the States there are around 60 apps including faves like Spotify and Pandora.
With technology like active driver and park assist, radar-based blind spot and adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning systems and more, cars have become more high-tech than ever. What car tech has caught your eye lately?