Collaborations can be a beautiful thing — especially if they make our lives easier. It looks like Toyota wants to make things a lot simpler for its customers. The brand recently announced that it will explore the development of an open-source version of Ford’s AppLink connected-car infotainment system.
Connect Our Cars, Please
It’s no secret that carmakers seem to be pulling out all the stops to make tech-savvy consumers happy. And nothing ups the "yay!" factor more than a way to easily migrate our smartphone-driven lives into the cars we rely on.
Toyota is looking to the tech gurus at Ford to adopt the SmartDeviceLink platform, or SDL — an open-source version of Ford’s AppLink system — on future models of Toyota and Lexus vehicles. SDL was created by Livio, a software company acquired by Ford Motor Company in 2013.
In-Car Apps, ASAP
Along with Ford’s newest version of the SYNC infotainment system (available soon in the Fiesta and Escape), AppLink allows smartphone users to interact with their favorite apps on the car’s large touchscreen or display panels, dashboard buttons or via voice command. For driver’s prone to distraction — er, most of us — voice-command capabilities are particularly critical. Having email messages read aloud and utilizing apps to play our favorite music and get navigation help are huge plusses.
And because it’s open-source, the AppLink software allows developers outside of Ford to access in-vehicle controls such as display screens and voice-recognition systems.
Emerging Tech Gets Competitive
In a statement, Shigeki Terashi, senior managing officer at Toyota Motor Corporation, says 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."
This marks another move toward collaboration between Ford and Toyota. In the summer of 2011, the two carmakers agreed to collaborate on the development of next-generation standards for in-car telematics to enable a safer, more secure and more convenient driving experience.
Ford’s SDL platform is just one emerging piece of technology for connected cars. Technology giants Apple and Google are making serious strides, too. The folks at Nissan Motor and Germany’s Volkswagen are on board with Google’s Android Auto, which allows the use of Android smartphones in vehicles. And Apple’s competing platform, CarPlay, features Siri voice control.