Ford will be giving away its SYNC AppLink to any automaker or Tier 1 supplier, as it looks to make SYNC the standard for in-car connectivity systems.
By opening up the SYNC API (or Application Programming Interface) to other parties, Ford is hoping to ensure that SYNC becomes the dominant system, similar to how Google’s Android has entrenched itself as the leading mobile OS.
Wired Magazine’s Damon Lavrinc adroitly explains the significance of Ford’s announcement, and the impact it will have on the future of in-car infotainment
Every automaker features a different consumer-facing platform, so developers must work with a variety of APIs and SDKs[software development kits]. It’s annoying but doable for a massive outfit like Pandora, but damn near impossible for small developers. That’s where AppLink comes in. By offering AppLink to any automaker or Tier 1 supplier (the folks who build the hardware) and providing a universal API and SDK, Ford expands an app’s footprint across the industry and brings more developers into the Ford fold.
Of course, there are drawbacks; auto makers would have to cede control, moving from the systems they’ve spent time and money on, to one created by Ford. Bringing a competitor’s product into another OEM’s vehicle could also present a problem if an infotainment system has to have connectivity with something like a vehicle diagnostic system – as Lavrinc points out, that’s a boundary that no OEM is willing to tamper with.
On the other hand, there’s the less open approach that GM is taking, whereby it is making an SDK available for anyone interested in designing apps. This is more akin to Apple’s iOS system, and affords GM more control