Ford Taps App Developer, Deals With News, Music Content Providers
LAS VEGAS — Ford Motor Co. announced this week at the International CES that Southfield-based JacApps will be the recommended mobile app development house for their new Ford Developer Program.
The company has been chosen to provide development and technical support to third-party developers wanting to create voice-activated smartphone apps for Ford Sync AppLink.
Using Sync voice commands along with steering wheel and radio buttons, drivers can enjoy a live audio stream or their favorite podcasts from within the mobile app. This is a significant breakthrough for the radio industry that will allow AM/FM stations to have parity on the vehicle’s digital screen.
JacApps officials said discussions with Ford began in mid-2012.
“Because of our experience in the radio space, combined with our shared history as Detroit-based companies, a natural partnership quickly developed,” said JacApps vice president and general manager Paul Jacobs. “From there, identifying a radio partner for our announcement was an easy call. Greater Media, who has iconic radio stations here in Detroit – WRIF, WCSX, and WMGC — as well as great radio brands in Philadelphia, Boston, Charlotte, and New Jersey — was the obvious choice.”
Under the deal, individual radio stations no longer have to be concerned about their place on the dashboards of “connected cars” based on JacApps experience. Beginning today, owners of Ford Sync AppLink enabled vehicles will be able to access local radio station apps thanks to JacApps’ extensive experience working in radio to create mobile apps providing streaming capability and on-demand content services.
Greater Media radio stations that are live in the iTunes App Store and Google Play market with Sync AppLink functionality include: WRIF, WCSX and WMGC in Detroit, WROR, WBOS, WMJX, WKLB and 96.9 FM in Boston, WDHA and WRAT in New Jersey, WMMR, WMGK, WBEN and The Fanatic in Philadelphia and WBT-AM and WLNK in Charlotte, N.C.
JacApps will provide support for all developers interested in integrating their apps with the Sync AppLink system for voice commands and other functionality.
“We have been training and testing apps on the system for several months and we’re available to help the radio industry and all mobile app developers become major players on the connected car dashboard,” Jacobs said.
Since November 2008, JacApps has produced 750 mobile apps for local and global broadcasters.
Ford also announced at CES:
* A Ford Sync AppLink integration with USA Today that allows media-hungry users to satiate their appetite for news, sports and more by telling their Ford Sync AppLink-equipped car, “Play news story” or “Listen to sports stories” to get the latest news on the go. Users can customize their news or opt to skip stories as well.
* A Ford Developer Program to provide developers the information and tools needed for the creation of voice-activated experiences inside the car. Ford becomes the first automaker in the world to launch an open developer program that enables software developers to directly interface with the vehicle and create apps that will enhance the driving experience.
“The Ford Developer Program marks a dramatic shift in how we will innovate new features and add value to our vehicles throughout the ownership period,” said Hau Thai-Tang, vice president of Engineering, Ford Global Product Development. “Opening the car to developers gives consumers a direct voice and hand in the creation of apps that can help our products remain relevant, up to date and valuable to our customers.”
Ford has been in a beta test with a group of invited developers as they work out details of the software development kit, documentation and technical support systems. With more than three dozen AppLink-compatible apps publicly available on Apple iOS and Google Android, the SDK is now mature enough that Ford engineers are ready to let the vast ecosystem of developers try it out.
The Ford program is similar to those at technology companies including Apple, Google and Facebook. App developers who want to enable their creations for AppLink can now register at http://developer.ford.com to download the AppLink SDK. The SDK contains code libraries and documentation for the APIs that enable two-way communication between mobile apps and the vehicle including voice commands from the driver.
Other new app partners that joined the existing Ford AppLink ecosystem include:
News and Information
Wall Street Journal – The Journal’s interactive app now features live and on-demand radio programming to stay on top of the latest news, markets, technology and lifestyle coverage from the nation’s largest newspaper
Kaliki – Radio talent reads audio versions of the most compelling articles from a variety of magazines and newspapers such as Shape Magazine, TV Guide, Men’s Fitness, OK! and Agence France-Presse. Launching with local papers in Detroit and Los Angeles with more publishers to come later in the year. All the content in Kaliki is free, with no subscription required
Music and Entertainment
Amazon Cloud Player – Drivers can listen to their personal music collection streamed from Amazon’s cloud-based music locker service Aha Radio – Voice control of more than 30,000 stations of your favorite Internet content – radio, on-demand music services, news, entertainment, podcasts, audiobooks, social feeds, personalized restaurant, coffee, weather and hotel stations, and more
Rhapsody – Listen to millions of songs, plus radio stations and expert-created playlists from America’s top premium subscription music service on the road Greater Media – Listen to live streams of favorite radio stations from around the United States
Navigation and Location
Glympse – Provide friends and family with an ETA and update of your location in real time on a dynamic map, completely hands-free
BeCouply – Get instant suggestions for cool date ideas in your area