Ford and Toyota Leading App Consortium To Keep Apple and Google In Check

Ford and Toyota are leading a consortium with automakers and technology suppliers to standardize in-vehicle apps, making sure that Apple and Google can’t take control over connectivity between drivers and their smartphones.

So far, Mazda, PSA Group, Subaru’s owner, Fuji Heavy Industries, and Suzuki have joined their SmartDeviceLink Consortium. Honda may be considering joining.

Suppliers Elektrobit Automotive, Luxoft Holding, and Xevo also joined the consortium. Harman, Panasonic, Pioneer, and QNX have signed letters of intent to join, according to a joint statement.

The nonprofit group’s goal is to promote more choice in how smartphones get connected to in-vehicle technologies through an open-source software platform. Toyota has avoided offering Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto in its vehicles over concerns for safety and security. Ford now offers the Apple and Google connected car options on all its 2017 model vehicles. The Detroit automaker also wants the open-source platform that all auto app developers can use as an alternative to what Apple and Google offer.

“Encouraging innovation is at the center of Ford’s decision,” said Doug VanDagens, global director of Ford Connected Vehicles and Services.

Members of the consortium have been concerned about choices carmakers and suppliers have in how smartphones get connected to in-vehicle technologies like dashboard displays, voice recognition, and other programming.

The alliance between Toyota and Ford started with a collaboration on telematics systems in 2011. These automakers, and others, have been concerned that the influence of Apple and Google over the auto industry will grow even stronger.

SEE ALSO:  Toyota and Honda Investing in Connected Cars and A.I. to Compete with Silicon Valley

Both Apple and Google have made serious investments in employees and intellectual property to play leading roles in connected cars and the future of autonomous vehicles. They’ve both indicated that they’re not taking the prospect of manufacturing their own vehicles seriously, but they would like to play dominant roles in the next phase of automotive technologies.

Ford’s adaptation of the SmartDeviceLink technology is already available on five million Ford vehicles globally. The link technology provides drivers with popular mobile apps like Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and AccuWeather.

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