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Ford opens the door to third-party app developers

In a quite unexpected move, Ford has launched an open developer program meant for its in-car infotainment system, making them the first car maker in the world to enable third-party software developers to create apps for its vehicles – a very interesting idea indeed.

The new program makes use of Ford’s Sync connectivity system and AppLink application programming interface as developer tools, so that they can then create voice-activated apps meant to enhance the driving experience.

According to Ford’s vice president of engineering at Ford global product development, this approach is meant to add new value and features to vehicles throughout the ownership period, something of a ‘dramatic shift’ in his words, whether that’s how it will end up eventually, we can only wait and see.

The car-makers has been running a beta test of the program with a group of developers to have them create a software development kit, and they are satisfied with the maturity of the program that they plan to open it to developers from around the world.

This approach is indeed an interesting one, especially when one considers the recent Nielsen survey which revealed that there are more than one billion smartphone users in the world, and that number will most likely double by as soon as 2015. An even more incredible number is that of apps downloaded from the leading digital markets, more than fifty-five billion.

This new Ford Program will offer developers a new opportunity to develop apps, and will also help the carmaker to become a more consumer-driven company.

A few of these apps have already been launched for Ford’s Sync-equipped vehicles in the US, apps such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Glympse – what the first two do is pretty obvious, the latter one however allows the driver to update their friends and family in regards to their expected time of arrival by using a real-time tracker to display their location on a dynamic map.

Those are just the more obvious starting-point, as it was evident on the smartphone market, opening the market to developers will give birth to many more not-so-obvious apps.

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