"The car presents an all-new opportunity for developers, especially the millennial market, and we're looking forward to seeing what results," Thai-Tang added. "Engaging innovators outside of the company is a key part of our strategy to be consumer-driven in all aspects of our business, helping us not only satisfy what's going on today, but setting us up for innovative solutions to the challenges coming in the future."
Ford has been in a beta test with a group of invited developers as they work out details of the software development kit (SDK), documentation and technical support systems. With more than three dozen AppLink-compatible apps publicly available on Apple iOS and Google Android, the SDK is now mature enough that Ford engineers are ready to let the vast ecosystem of developers try it out, Ford said.
“I’m excited that Ford is launching the Ford Developer Program, a global program to bring the coolness of SYNC AppLink to Android and iPhone app developers around the world,” said Julius Marchwicki, global product manager of AppLink, in a blog post on the program.
Ford officials said the Ford Developer Program is similar to those at technology companies including Apple, Google and Facebook. App developers who want to enable their creations for AppLink can now register at http://developer.ford.com to download the AppLink SDK. The SDK contains code libraries and documentation for the APIs that enable two-way communication between mobile apps and the vehicle including voice commands from the driver.
"Since launching AppLink, we've worked with developers ranging from a two-man startup at Roximity to large organizations like National Public Radio and Major League Baseball," Marchwicki said in a statement. "The experience we gained from these projects as well as supporting hackathons at TechCrunch Disrupt and Facebook has helped us refine the development and testing process."
In addition to the libraries and documentation, developers will have access to technical support directly from Ford engineers and online discussion forums where they can share lessons learned with other developers, Ford said.
“We already have 13 different brands including Pandora, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, NPR News, MLB.com, Roximity and TuneIn Radio that have already used our APIs to create voice-activated applications using SYNC AppLink,” Marchwicki said in his blog post. “We’ve also had a number of cool developers like Kaliki, USA Today, Rhapsody, Amazon Cloud Player and Glympse all use this site in beta form to develop their applications. With their help, we’ve consolidated all of our learnings into resources available on this site to create working, vehicle-controlled and voice-enabled applications in AppLink-equipped vehicles today. And all these apps are developed on the smartphone, no vehicle required (though it is helpful)!”
Meanwhile, developers who have an idea for an app but need some help building it can turn to jacAPPS. Michigan-based jacAPPS will be the recommended mobile app development house for the Ford Developer Program. The company has been chosen to provide development and technical support to third-party developers wanting to create voice-activated smartphone apps for Ford SYNC AppLink.
"Our focus is to enhance the driving experience by minimizing the distractions caused by hand-held usage of smartphones while driving," added Marchwicki in a statement. "We know consumers are using apps such as music and navigation while driving; therefore, by making AppLink available to developers, we can help ensure relevant apps can now be voice-controlled."