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Toyota Studying Ford's Smartphone Integration Tech for Future Models

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 6/4/2015 Karla Sanchez

Toyota is looking into an open-source version of Ford's AppLink smartphone-based infotainment system as a possibility for its future models. Called SmartDeviceLink (SDL), the software has the ability to work across different brands and vehicles, giving customers more choice in how they access integrated smartphone apps.

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SDL works by allowing access to in-vehicle apps with display screens, dashboard buttons, and a voice recognition system. If all goes as planned, Ford hopes the software will become the industry-standard interface for command and control of smartphone apps. Ford encourages the adoption of SDL by other vehicle manufacturers and suppliers so that customers have more choice in how they connect and control their smartphones. With the standardized system, customers won’t have to have the latest smartphone devices, operating system software versions, or platforms to access apps. Since the system works with voice recognition tech, users won’t have to be worried about cellular connection or available bandwidth for functionality. Another upside to SDL, according to Ford, is that it’ll help drive growth of the automotive developer community. Of course, SDL will have to prove itself against Apple CarPlay and Google's Android Auto, which are both gaining steam with automakers. Previously, Toyota was said to be exploring CarPlay for some future models. MotorTrend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTrend Image

Even though the goal is to have other vehicle manufacturers use the same system, Ford stresses that each automaker will have control over the interface design to make it unique to its brand.

“We first introduced AppLink to serve our customers’ desire to access their apps inside the car,” said Don Butler, executive director, Ford Connected Vehicle and Services. “Now, with SmartDeviceLink, we’re demonstrating our long-term commitment to our customers, and the industry overall, to make it easy for smartphones and cars to work together everywhere around the world.”

Vehicles equipped with AppLink give owners easy access to smartphone apps such as Spotify, Glympse, iHeartRadio, Pandora, among several others. AppLink is currently available in more than 5 million Ford vehicles in North America, according to the automaker.

Source: Ford, Toyota

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