We have discussed how automakers are outsourcing portions of their infotainment app development to Apple and Google and the fact that it is a generally good idea. Now it looks like Ford is joining GM in allowing their app development and management to be performed by companies known for it.
Ford is steadfastly sticking with its Sync AppLink platform, while Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay import and utilize their respective user interfaces and app management tools. This arrangement is said to optimize app usage for Sync’s command and control systems, allowing the tethered smartphone to deliver features such as streaming audio, reading of e-mails and other connected services, while using voice command that is native to the Sync system. And because connection to the outside world is handled by the smartphone, no additional data plan needs to be purchased.
OpenXC, the joint project between Ford and Bug Labs, is an open-source collaboration similar to that of Ford’s relationship with Automatic Labs in which developers are encouraged to write code and create hardware that integrates with Ford’s AppLink platform. It can be argued that developers would rather create solutions for CarPlay and Android Auto instead of specifically for car companies due to scale and revenue potential. However, we applaud the effort by Ford to partner with tech companies as a means to be relevant to the connected customer as well as stay competitive in the marketplace.
Now, if Ford can evolve the remainder of the command and control features of Sync and its attendant MyFord Touch system to improve on past challenges with customer satisfaction, we believe the automaker can compete strongly for the industry’s top position in overall technology.