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More apps active in the car

John Day

John Day

Posted May 16, 2011

How does an automaker decide which smartphone apps can access vehicle resources, and how access should be enabled?

“More and more drivers will find a way to use their devices and their apps while in the car,” says Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of Global Product Development. “They can do it unsafely, or they can do it through safer voice-activated solutions such as Ford SYNC – keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.”

Ford developed an API (application program interface), AppLink software, an SDK (software development kit), and a set of guidelines for deciding what apps are appropriate. “Our goal is not to have thousands of apps available for the car,” says Kuzak, “because there are strict limitations on what should be allowed while driving.”

As of last fall, Ford had received more than 1,000 submissions from developers who want their apps to interface with Ford SYNC through AppLink software. Reviewing all those submissions requires time and effort that other automakers may wish to avoid, and if so, they might consider contacting Airbiquity, if they haven’t already, since Airbiquity is positioning itself to become an automotive apps clearinghouse.

Partnering with Hitachi Automotive Systems, Airbiquity provides the information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure for Nissan’s LEAF electric vehicle (EV), Ford selected Airbiquity to provide connected vehicle services and infrastructure for Ford’s EV programs, and Airbiquity is partnering with Robert Bosch Car Multimedia GmbH to enable connected vehicle services for Bosch’s in-car multimedia systems.

“We have a highly flexible, global architecture,” says Leo McCloskey, Airbiquity’s vice president of marketing. “We provide middleware that creates an adaptive layer that can integrate all sorts of partners into an ecosystem that can be personalized for vehicle lines, locations, individual consumers, or whatever parameters an automaker wants.”

The company may reveal more of its clearinghouse plans at Telematics Update Detroit early next month.

SYNC, Robert Bosch Car Multimedia GmbH, AppLink, automotive apps clearinghouse, Airbiquity, in-car multimedia systems, Nissan's LEAF Electric Vehicle, Ford, Hitachi Automotive Systems

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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