Ford AppLink opens floodgates to in-car

Floodgates to in-car iOS, Android and BlackBerry apps (Wired UK)

“It’s open, it’s global, it’s live, let’s hack!” says Ford’s John Eliss, global technologist for connected services. Ford has been leading the way in networking its cars and encouraging app developers to give Ford vehicles an edge in the increasingly technology-obsessed motor industry. So travelled to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) to try them out.

Pandora, Amazon Cloud Player, BeCouply and Kaliki are four of the 63 in-car apps that currently make use of the microphones, speakers, control panels and smartphone connectivity found in Ford dashboards. With the free SDK kits available, they’re the first of a flood of apps that will provide useful content and services that help the driver without causing distraction and use voice commands to avoid fiddly keypad text entry.

By 2014 there will be 14 million app-capable Fords on the road and with no cost for the SDK or a royalty fee and free advice at, there’s plenty of incentive for novice developers to get busy. All new Fords will be compatible and the apps themselves can be downloaded onto Android or iOS devices, explained Eliss.

We used a developer’s cut away dashboard to test an great app called BeCouply — a sort of dating adviser that suggests places to take your other half in case you run out of ideas. It uses your GPS location to pick places that are open nearby, speaking them over the stereo to you and directing you there if you like the sound of it. If not, you just say “next” for another idea.

Amazon Cloud Player works just like iTunes Match, by identifying the tunes you have in your playlist and letting you access those from its cloud service if Amazon happens to have them too. Again, you use your voice to search for music, play, skip and shuffle.

Kaliki reads magazine articles back to you. It relies on publishers providing the spoken content from their own titles, so the selection is limited to Men’s Health, TV Guide along with a dozen additional publications thus far. The app variation of the favored newspaper, USA Today, is probably to be more prevalent because it reads out the best stories whenever we ask for News, Money, Tech, Travel etc. The Wall Street Journal has a synonymous application plus UK magazines are probably to signal up shortly.

In fact, Eliss only has three rules for the developers: no text-heavy apps, no movies or video content and definitely no games. The idea is to enhance the driving experience safely and keep the driver’s eyes and attention on the road.

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