Ford helps you bring your apps to its cars. Here’s how

Scott Burnell, who is the global lead for business development and partner management with the Ford Developer Program, discusses the advantages of Ford’s Developer Program.

“We’ve opened up to pretty much anybody that wants to come in. There’s no fee. You could be an individual developer, you can be a corporation, you can be any level of developer … we allow anybody to come in.”

Once you become part of that community, Ford gives you access to its software developer kit (SDK), development guides, a community of support, and the SYNC AppLink team within Ford for additional help. “We’re just giving the same types of tools they are accustomed to.”

Since AppLink was introduced in the 2011 Ford Fiesta, Ford has worked with large developers (like Pandora,, and Slacker Radio) as well as small outfits (Kaliki, Glimpse, and Roximity). Burnell describes how Roximity got started: It was a two-man operation that won a hackathon Ford hosted, and it quickly went on to integrate its app into Ford’s vehicles.

With the AppLink tools, developers let you move any controls that users would normally interact with on the phone’s screen to the car’s interface. The phone’s screen is locked to prevent distracted driving, but the driver can interact with the device through the SYNC voice command interface or through buttons on the steering wheel and dashboard.

“We don’t want to try to direct the development,” Burnell said. “We want it to be open.

At the end of this video, he also discusses the Makeathon that Ford hosted at VentureBeat’s recent DevBeat conference, where teams of makers competed to create gadgets and apps that would integrate with Ford’s AppLink system.

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