Ford is trying to make your car the next bit smartphone app platform and it has just introduced a software developer kit and application programming interfaces for its in-car SYNC system.
We’ve played with Ford SYNC before and it is a pretty cool way to bring hands-free technology into your car for things like hands-free calling. But the company wants to kick it up a notch and attract developers for a new breed of applications that are typically found in smartphones.
The SDK is already being used by Pandora and Stitcher to bring Internet radio to your vehicle but the Ford SYNC SDK will allow other smartphone app makers to have deeper ties to your vehicle. It will work by pairing up with your smartphone when you enter the car through Bluetooth or a hard connection, if you desire.
These apps will be added first to the Android Market or the BlackBerry App World (iPhone support coming soon) and you’ll be able to install the apps to your car’s system through a standard USB port.
The Ford SDK won’t be open to every type of app maker, as I think the crash rates would go up dramatically if there was Angry Birds was suddenly available on your car. Instead, the car company is seeking apps that make sense in this environment.
Speaking at CTIA 2010 in San Francisco, Ford representatives envisioned a future where SYNC apps could make your car a far more productive and entertaining place. For example, stock readers, news applications and audio programs are all natural fits for the car.
The company even envisioned a future where social networking could play a big role. This doesn’t mean just sending tweets via your Ford SYNC but one could use Yelp on the go to find nearby restaurants. One could use a voice prompt to ask social network friends what’s a good restaurant in the area and the app could tell you recommendations from your friends.