Everyone knows how competitive the automotive industry can be and has been in the past. American made versus Foreign made vehicles is touted across the media in advertisements. It is a little convoluted however, as many parts on American vehicles are made abroad and vice versa. Because of this, it is interesting to see that some auto manufacturers are beginning to “cooperate” with one another. A recent case of this is Toyota and Ford.
Toyota has announced recently that they will adopt an open source version of Ford’s AppLink into future Toyota models such as the upcoming Rav4. The software dubbed SmartDeviceLink allows drivers and passengers to access apps that are running on their smartphone device using the LCD touch screen and dash display in the vehicle. This can also be controlled by voice input if the user chooses that option. This is similar to what Apple and Android offer today.
There is one big difference between the Apple CarPlay/ Android Auto systems and the AppLink/SmartDeviceLink. Ford’s open source software has over 70 apps available on their system, while Apple and Android only have a limited number of apps available today. Another thing that sets Ford/Toyota’s open source system apart is customization. Auto manufacturers will have the option to modify their homescreen while all other manufacturers using Apple or Android will have a uniform screen.
The software will use SDL embed code, which means the links are developed once and able to run anywhere. An advantage of using SDL code is that the automakers can support older phone models and give access to more customers. One good reason Ford and Toyota aren’t buying into the CarPlay/Android Auto app is that they don’t want to lose control of their vehicles and the center consoles. This gives automakers much more flexibility in what they can or cannot do in their vehicles.
If more automakers collaborate with on software and ideas, it may put more pressure on aftermarket providers like Apple and Android to allow for white label options allowing manufacturers to brand the software. It would seem that with the rapid evolution of the automotive world and software, we will most likely see cooperation between the big players going forward, if only to stave off the competition that is non-automotive today.