Ford’s AppLink Will Soon Support Third-Party Navigation Apps

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Most cars’ built-in navigation systems tend to be a bit clunky compared to modern smartphone apps like of Google Maps. It looks like Ford is among the first car manufacturers to acknowledge this. The next version of AppLink, its system for connecting smartphone apps to its SYNC infotainment system, will allow third-party navigation apps to project their maps from the phone onto the built-in screens in its cars.

2015-01-12_1037Ford will roll out the latest (and much improved) version of SYNC later this year, but AppLink 3.0 will only become available at a later date (SYNC can be updated over WiFi and through a connected smartphone).

The company is already working with Alibaba to bring its navigation and music services to its in-vehicle screens. Chances are, other companies will jump on board as well, though it’s worth noting that Ford has to explicitly whitelist applications to run on AppLink. There’s no reason to believe the company will stop Google, Microsoft, TeleNav or Here from offering its mapping services on its platform, though.

AppLink currently focuses mostly on audio apps, but with Glympse, it has long featured a location-sharing service as well.

As Ford notes, AppLink 3.0 will use the Genivi alliance’s open-source SmartDeviceLink service and its APIs to enable this feature. The members in the Genivi alliance, besides Ford, include the likes of BMW, Honda, Nissan, Renault, Volvo and John Deere, as well as chip manufacturers like Intel, Qualcomm and Nvidia and plenty of aftermarket manufacturers. Earlier this month, the Genivi Alliance also announced that it would offer open source middleware to support Android Auto integration into car infotainment products.