SHANGHAI, China – Ford is expanding its technology footprint in China, bringing its Ford Developer Program to the world’s largest auto market where it aims to tap into a burgeoning network of developers.
Reinforcing its position as a leader in innovative, interactive features for vehicles, Ford also introduced the next generation of Ford SYNC® AppLink™, or AppLink 2.0 – which will allow greater communication between smartphone apps and AppLink-equipped vehicles.
“Ford is a developer-focused company. We understand that a vibrant app ecosystem is essential to the success of a platform for both users and developers,” said Kumar Galhotra, Vice President, Product Development, Ford Asia Pacific.
“We also understand that the developer community can bring new capabilities to our customers much faster than we could on our own. So we want to build relationships with developers in China, and we want to enable anyone who has a great idea for the in-car experience to create, test and possibly deploy their app in Ford vehicles.”
Ford will introduce a Chinese-language version of its developer.ford.com web site to make it easier for Chinese developers to work with Ford on creating apps for its vehicles. Developers who register with the site will be able to download the AppLink software development kit, which contains libraries and documentation for the APIs enabling communication between apps and the vehicle. AppLink documentation is already available in Mandarin for developers to access.
The developer site also features online forums to discuss app development and related issues. Once submitted to Ford, an app is thoroughly tested and reviewed for usability and suitability for Ford AppLink-enabled vehicles. After Ford works out a distribution license with the developer, the app can be released to customers.
Developers in China who work through the development process will be able to take advantage of a rapidly growing potential market. Calculations by Forrester Research show that China already has the largest number of smartphones of any country in the world.
New Apps for China
Ford also announced today the introduction of nine new apps with the arrival of Ford SYNC® AppLink™ in China.
The first nine apps available for Ford AppLink in China – by Baidu, Sina, AutoNavi, Sougou, Douban and QingTing.fm – all mark new ways for customers to bring their favorite smartphone apps into their vehicles with simple voice commands.
“We’re really excited about bringing Ford SYNC® AppLink™ to China, and thrilled to be kicking things off with nine fantastic apps,” said Ed Pleet, Director, Connected Services for Ford in Asia Pacific, Africa and Europe. “With these apps, we’re able to showcase some of the capabilities that AppLink customers will be able to enjoy – and this is just the beginning.”
With Ford SYNC® AppLink™, customers can control applications on their smartphones from the driver’s seat using voice controls, through the Ford SYNC voice-activated connectivity system. The first nine apps available in China will give drivers voice control access to some of the country’s most popular internet services.
Baidu Maps – The combination of Baidu Maps and SYNC® AppLink™ allows voice-activated access to off board, cloud based navigation that's constantly updated. Baidu Maps also allows users to use a voice command to start navigation and receive turn-by-turn directions over the vehicle audio system guiding them to the location.
Baidu Voice Assistant – Using voice commands to connect to Baidu Cloud to request information such as weather, current location, traffic. The service also reads incoming text messages, and allows you to reply by voice dictation.
Sina Weibo – This global social networking app allows you to use SYNC® AppLink™ to listen to your friends’ timeline and music via simple voice commands.Sina Weibo will also read your Weibo instant messages, and determine your location with the push of a button in the vehicle.
Sina Weather – Reads real-time weather reports through the in-car speaker. Different cities can be selected using voice commands or a button in the vehicle.
AutoNavi – A navigation system from one of China's biggest navigation map and service provider AutoNavi Group. The app allows you to map your favorite destinations to voice command for quick and easy access. Using voice commands, you can also search for nearby restaurants and the system will navigate you there.
AutoNavi Traffic – The integration of the AutoNavi Traffic app and SYNC® AppLink™ means that real time traffic information can be announced in the vehicle and displayed on the screen in the vehicle's center stack.
Sogou Voice Assistant – Allows smartphone owners to question and converse with the service in a natural, conversational way. Users can search for anything from weather to restaurants and receive quick answers.
Douban.FM – Douban.FM is a personalized music tool which recommends songs based on your tastes. You can also share the song being played to Weibo simply by pressing a button on the steering wheel.
QingTing.FM – A leading radio aggregation service in China, providing more than 3,000 radio stations, audio books and podcasts, all in your car. You can change stations or music category by pressing a button on the steering wheel, and also bookmark music being played for quick access later.
Ford has also announced the AppLink Catalog app in Chinese, through which customers will be able to more easily discover and download new AppLink-enabled apps. The AppLink Catalog app organizes and lists all available apps, and automatically connects customers to the app store of their choice for downloading.
“The number of new apps being introduced in Ford vehicles is going to grow really quickly, so the AppLink Catalog app will make it really simple for users to find what apps are actually available,” said Pleet. “The catalog also benefits developers, as it will make it easier for their apps to be found in the vast app ecosystem.”