Ford Extends Commitment to App Developers by Contributing AppLink to Open-Source GENIVI Alliance


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BARCELONA, Spain--Feb. 26, 2013:

  • Ford becomes the first American automaker to open-source the software of a product by contributing the AppLink code to the GENIVI Alliance
  • The AppLink connectivity interface allows drivers to take control of compatible smartphone and tablet apps through dashboard buttons or voice commands
  • Contribution builds on Ford's initial commitment to app developers with the launch of the first open developer program in the auto industry, Ford Developer

Today Ford Motor Company expanded its commitment to help encourage the growing community of automotive app developers by announcing it will contribute the software for AppLink, the Ford-developed in-car smartphone app interface, to the GENIVI Alliance. Ford becomes the first American automaker to contribute proprietary source code from one of its products to an open-source project.

The AppLink software enables apps from connected smartphones to be controlled using the vehicle interface, including available voice recognition and audio buttons. Along with the announcement of the industry-first open mobile app developer program at the 2013 International CES this past January, Ford announced the intention to take further steps to help developers be successful working with the automotive industry, an emerging growth area for app integration.

"Ford wants to see app developers succeed in their work with the auto industry," said Doug VanDagens, global director of Connected Services at Ford. "Contributing the AppLink software to GENIVI demonstrates our commitment to be developer-focused which supports our drive for consumer-focused innovation."

Learning from the lessons of the smartphone market, Ford understands that a vibrant app ecosystem is essential to the success of a platform for both users and developers. Great apps will attract customers to the platform, which in turn draws more developers to expand the boundaries of functionality. By open-sourcing the AppLink platform so that automakers and aftermarket infotainment manufacturers can incorporate it, developers will get a larger potential market and more incentive to create apps that can be used on the go.

Ford will establish a new open-source GENIVI project, with a Ford engineer maintaining the project. The project will contain all of the code and documentation required to implement the AppLink software into the vehicle audio system head unit to enable two-way communications with Google Android and Apple iOS devices. All of the code for what will be known as SmartPhoneLink is being released under the well-established BSD open-source license.

"GENIVI is pleased to host the SmartPhoneLink project as one of its growing number of public open source projects," said Steve Crumb, executive director, GENIVI Alliance. "Ford's commitment to contributing its AppLink software technology to a broader base of developers fits perfectly with GENIVI's commitment to drive adoption of open source software in the automotive community."

The GENIVI (pronounced gen-ee-vee) Alliance is a non-profit industry alliance committed to driving the broad adoption of an In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) open-source development platform.

"We looked at a number of different organizations before deciding to establish these open-source projects with GENIVI," added VanDagens. "We wanted to work with an active organization that already has connections with the automotive ecosystem including both automakers and suppliers.

"Working with GENIVI also demonstrates that the resulting SmartPhoneLink platform will be operating system agnostic so that manufacturers can implement it with any embedded operating system they choose including Linux, QNX and Microsoft Windows Embedded."

In addition to Ford's contribution to SmartPhoneLink, navigation services provider Telenav and embedded software development firm Luxoft have committed to contribute supporting code to the new SmartPhoneLink projects.

"We are delighted that Ford has committed to turning its field-proven AppLink technology into an open industry standard," said Vasiliy Suvorov, vice president of Technology Strategy at Luxoft. "We fully share Ford's vision and will support it by contributing code from our open-source car connectivity platform iviLink to SmartPhoneLink. This will allow us to concentrate on one platform going forward and focus on added value functionality, head unit integration and applications."

"Mobile app developers want a standard cross-OEM platform on which to write code," said Sal Dhanani, vice president and general manager of Telenav's automotive business. "Telenav will help define the communication protocol between smartphones and the vehicle's head unit to ensure drivers have a high quality and personalized connected navigation experience."

Ford has more than 1 million cars, trucks and SUVs on the road in North America equipped with AppLink including Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, Mustang, Escape, F-150, Super Duty and E-Series.

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