Ford SYNC AppLink SDK launched: voice operated apps next big thing for drivers?

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Ford SYNC, the hands-free voice activated in-car connectivity kit that allows drivers to control their music and other functions, has had its software development kit let loose to developers, leading many to believe an in-car app revolution is on the horizon thanks to the introduction of AppLink.

With Ford SYNC now installed in 3 million vehicles since being introduced back in 2007, AppLink will allow developers to create voice-activated smartphone apps that will work in tandem with the dashboard kit. AppLink will be initially available in the 2011 Fiesta and will be compatible with Android and BlackBerry handsets. iPhone compatibility is expected to be added to the system later in the year.

“More and more drivers will find a way to use their devices and their apps while in the car,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford Motor Company’s Group Vice President of Global Product Development. “They can do it unsafely, or they can do it through safer voice-activated solutions such as Ford SYNC – keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.”

This week, an IBM survey of 2,000 software designers around the world revealed that the design of business apps is expected to dominate all other forms of business software development over the course of the next five years.

“Smartphone ‘apps’ are making business more mobile and less office bound all the time,” said Mark Mason, CEO of app developers Mubaloo. “Ford has released its software development kit today and Mubaloo ‘apps’ will be compatible with their SYNC voice command system. The other motor manufacturers are bound to be following suit soon.”

“Automated voice command compatibility is an impressive feature for an ‘app’,” said Mr Mason. “Ford claim that their SYNC voice command system has a lexicon of more than 10,000 words.”

Despite the SDK only being launched today, Ford have already had 1,000 AppLink submissions from developers of brand new apps, or those looking to modify existing ones to make the most of the SYNC features.

Gerald Lynch