Ford And Toyota Join Forces To Build In-Car Apps

Jan 07, 2017 06:00 AM EST | Jeroah Sabado

Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. have joined forces with four other automakers to speed up development of auto-industry standards for in-car apps. The automakers are trying to prevent Google and Apple from controlling how cars owners connect smartphones to cars and trucks.

Toyota first agreed to partner with Ford on car telematics systems six years ago, as Ford and Toyota shared some concerns with Google and Apple taking over the car entertainment system along with security and safety features. The automakers seem to worry with Android Auto and CarPlay establishing itself as a must-have option for when that happens the influence of Google and Apple over the industry will grow.

The consortium formed by Ford and Toyota is called SmartDeviceLink, it bring various automakers together with third-party devices in order to standardize app development for vehicles. Current members include Mazda Motor Corp., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., PSA Group, and Suzuki Motor Corp. Elektrobit Automotive GmbH, Luxoft Holding Inc., and Xevo Inc. also joined as the first supplier members. Harman, Panasonic, Pioneer, and QNX are still on the process of being members as they recently signed Letters of Intent to join.

SmartDeviceLink is somewhat different to Android Auto and CarPlay, where the vehicle is the one providing most of the data and connectivity, and the user's phone is more of a terminal only. Google and Apple's are the other way around, where the user's device is doing most of the work.

Toyota resisted offering CarPlay and Android Auto in its cars, being concerned that doing so would reduce safety and security. Ford offered all its 2017 model vehicles, but the second largest automaker in U.S. still wants an open-source software platform that all car owners can use as an alternative to those of Google and Apple.

Ford and Toyota said in a joint statement last Wednesday that the non-profit organization's goal is to promote more options on how smartphones get connected to in-car technologies like dashboard displays and voice recognition, and other programming. App developers have already started working alongside Ford to make their apps compatible with SmartDeviceLink. Toyota has confirmed it will do the same in the first months of 2018. 

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