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Ford, Toyota and other OEMs partner on smartphone connectivity

Monday, February 13, 2017 - 08:00
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Ford, Toyota and a number of other automotive OEMs have formed the SmartDeviceLink Consortium, a non-profit group that will promote the use of an open-source platform for creating apps that will connect smartphones and vehicles.

The move is considered a direct challenge to Apple and Google, which have both announced smartphone control interfaces for vehicles (CarPlay and Android Auto, respectively).

Mazda Motor Corporation, PSA Group, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI) and Suzuki Motor Corporation also joined the consortium, along with suppliers Elektrobit, Luxoft and Xevo. Harman, Panasonic, Pioneer and QNX have signed letters of intent to join the group.

SmartDeviceLink (SDL) is a standard set of protocols and messages to connect applications on a smartphone to a vehicle head unit. SDL can be used with iOS, Android, and Blackberry smartphones. The technology is based on Ford’s AppLink software, which was handed over to the open source community in 2013. That same year Ford also acquired Livio, a software development startup, which will manage development of SDL.

Ford and Toyota first began collaborating on infotainment systems in 2011, and began exploring the introduction of SDL in Toyota vehicles in 2015. Toyota demonstrated SDL integration in the Livio exhibit at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

“Encouraging innovation is at the center of Ford’s decision to create SmartDeviceLink, and this consortium is a major step toward that goal,” said Doug VanDagens, global director, Ford Connected Vehicle and Services, and a board member of the consortium. “Consumers will win with new, innovative app experiences from increased collaboration and developer engagement.”

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