Ford is tapping into the nearly limitless app developer community to help bring more in-car apps to its vehicles with its Ford Developer Program. The initiative, announced here at CES 2013, has the look and feel of a true Silicon Valley developer program. App creators develop their apps for either Android or iOS using Ford's SDK and submit them to the automaker for review. After passing review, the apps can be published in the relevant app store.
This is the first time a car manufacturer has attempted to tap into the app developer market en masse. The first apps to launch under the new initiative include aHa radio, Amazon CloudPlayer, Glympse and USA Today, among others.
In order to begin developing for AppLink, a developer registers with Ford and is given access to the company's website where they can gain access to the AppLink SDK and technical support from Ford specialists, and request a full AppLink developer kit including a Sync with AppLink developer system.
Once a developer has completed the app, he can submit it for review by Ford to ensure its functionality and that it's appropriate for use in a moving car. If the app is approved, Ford will set up a distribution license with the developer and submit it to the appropriate app store.
Ford has some serious numbers to back up its reasoning for starting the program. According to the company, 75 percent of users believe it's important to connect their mobile devices to their vehicles, while another 66 percent think voice control is a must-have.
It's not just the U.S. that's getting all of Ford's in-car app love. The company said it will soon launch the service in both Europe and Asia. An Asian launch will be especially important for Ford, as China is currently the world's largest car market. By 2015, Ford says it expects to have some 14 million Sync with AppLink-equipped vehicles on the road.
Ford seems to have high hopes for its Developer Program, and if it can succeed, the variety of in-car apps could soon be as wide as any other mobile platform.