Toyota Teams With Ford For SmartDeviceLink Consortium, New Infotainment System In 2018 – Forbes

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2017
Ford SYNC AppLink which uses the core of SmartDeviceLink (photo credit: Sam Abuelsamid)

Ford SYNC AppLink which uses the core of SmartDeviceLink (photo credit: Sam Abuelsamid)

It’s been nearly four years since Ford announced that it was contributing the core code of its SYNC AppLink system to an open-source project. The hope was that other automakers and infotainment providers would adopt the open platform known as SmartDeviceLink (SDL), which would in turn encourage more mobile app developers to target the platform. In mid-2015 Ford and Toyota began active discussions on some collaboration and made a formal announcement at the 2016 CES in Las Vegas. This week in Las Vegas, the two automakers announced the formation of the SmartDeviceLink Consortium to manage the open-source program and help move it forward.

Toyota plans to launch a new infotainment system that integrates SDL in 2018 but hopefully they won’t be alone to integrating the platform. The new consortium also includes Mazda, Subaru, Suzuki, PSA along with several suppliers.  AppLink and SDL are designed to provide a common software interface so that developers can make their apps available to be controlled directly through the vehicle controls including the audio system, touchscreen and voice button. SDL also provides developers with access to certain vehicle data such as the embedded GPS antenna or powertrain information.

AppLink and SDL have always had a lot of promise and if multiple automakers had adopted it, developers would incentive to support the platform because they wouldn’t have to code something different for every automaker.

Android Auto in Ford SYNC 3 (photo credit: Sam Abuelsamid)

Android Auto in Ford SYNC 3 (photo credit: Sam Abuelsamid)

Unfortunately for Ford and the SDL project, not long after going open-source, Apple and Google each announced their own smartphone control interfaces, CarPlay and Android Auto. Most automakers subsequently announced support for the Apple and Google platforms since most drivers now use one of those two mobile phone platforms. While many consumers like the Apple/Google solutions, the automakers don’t like giving up control of the in-car user experience.


Apple CarPlay in Ford Sync 3 (photo credit: Sam Abuelsamid)


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