Ford opening SYNC AppLink for developers

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Ford is opening up its in-car technology to smart phone app developers with its new SYNC AppLink program.

With a debut at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, the automaker showcased its new application protocol interface (API) for connecting smart devices with its in-car SYNC system.

This allows not just Bluetooth and music syncing with a stereo, but also provides a voice command protocol so that developers can build their apps to be truly hands-free in the car.

Currently, the SYNC app already allows control of popular apps with hands-free controls, including Pandora radio, Stitcher smart radio, NPR News, iHeartRadio, and the Scout personal navigation system.  App developers can go to to apply to be recognized by the API and customize their apps to work with the SYNC system.

There are three categories of AppLink applications that Ford is recognizing for use with its SYNC system: News and Information, Music and Entertainment, and Navigation and Location.

Along with opening the SYNC AppLink developer program, Ford has announced several new AppLink apps from the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Kaliki, Amazon Cloud Player, Aha Radio, Rhapsody, Greater Media, Glympse and Becouply.  The program is opening up in Europe and Asia later this year and will go worldwide by this time next year.

This program is separate from Ford’s current OpenXC API, which is used for vehicle computer controls and technical information, not infotainment and navigation.  Also, unlike rival General Motors’ new developer API, Ford’s will utilize the smart phone for the apps while GM is allowing apps to be installed directly into their infotainment system.