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For several years, Ford has been thinking ahead on how to get mobile apps to better interact with its vehicles. Today, the American car company went one step further in its initiatives with the Ford Developer Program, which will help mobile developers directly interface with cars.

Sync was developed by Ford and Microsoft and introduced in 2007. It uses Bluetooth connectivity to connect smartphones and a car’s dashboard. With AppLink, drivers can use their voice to control any smartphone app that has been built with AppLink and Sync in mind. Sync is inside more than five million cars.

The Ford Developer Program, announced today at CES 2013, specifically aims to create apps that will utilize the Sync system and Ford’s AppLink API. Ultimately, Ford hopes the program will enhance driver experiences and give mobile devs the tools they need to do more with vehicle interactions.

“The Ford Developer Program marks a dramatic shift in how we will innovate new features and add value to our vehicles throughout the ownership period,” Ford engineering VP Hau Thai-Tang said in a statement. “Opening the car to developers gives consumers a direct voice and hand in the creation of apps that can help our products remain relevant, up to date and valuable to our customers.”

Another incentive to open up the developer program is to get more apps added faster. With about 40 AppLink-compatible apps available for iOS and Android, Ford felt it was worth opening up its SDK to let more developers get in.


On top of the developer program, Ford also announced several new apps that have joined the AppLink ecosystem:

  • Amazon Cloud Player: Drivers can listen to their music collection being streamed from Amazon.
  • Rhapsody: Listen to streaming music from Rhapsody.
  • Aha Radio: Voice control radio, news, podcasts, music, audiobooks, and more.
  • Greater Media: Listen to live streams from radio stations all over the U.S.
  • Glympse: Give your location to friends, family, and businesses to give them an ETA on when you’ll arrive and a map of where you are.
  • BeCouply: Get suggestions for where to go on dates.
  • Wall Street Journal: Listen to live and on-demand radio content from the WSJ.
  • USA Today: Listen to top news headlines from USA Today.
  • Kaliki: Listen to stories read from a variety of magazines and newspapers including TV Guide, Men’s Fitness, OK!, and Shape Magazine.

Top and middle photos via Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat
Ford logo via JD Hancock/Flickr

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