Ford, Toyota form connectivity partnership
Ford and Toyota announced Monday that Toyota will adopt Ford’s SmartDeviceLink platform for automotive smartphone connectivity.
SmartDeviceLink is Ford’s software platform for facilitating communication between handheld device applications and a vehicle’s on-board infotainment software (in this case, Ford’s Sync and Toyota’s Entune). Ford’s current implementation of this platform is called “AppLink.”
The announcement is seen by the two automakers as the foundation of what they hope will be a large alliance of manufacturers who want to keep development of automotive infotainment systems in-house while still supporting an industry-standard platform.
Ford says PSA Peugeot Citroën is the closest to becoming the second major automaker to sign on, with Honda, Mazda and Subaru all considering a similar move. QNX Software Systems and UIEvolution, both automotive suppliers, have also signed on.
Adoption of SDL by Toyota (and others) is seen as a win for automakers who want to keep the development of these systems in the hands of car manufacturers, rather than letting it fall to tech companies whose primary focus is outside of the automotive realm. Ford and Toyota claims this will allow each automaker to customize the interface to best take advantage of its unique hardware while still supporting what they hope will become a widespread (if not universal) standard.
Perhaps more importantly, this is a signal to Apple and Google that they and their partners are not universally welcome in the automotive tech sector. It’s also bad news for buyers who are hoping to see in-dash tech evolve into an extension of advanced smartphones, rather than continuing to be developed in parallel.