Ford Developer Blog

Hundreds of developers attend Ford Europe's Country Tour

Posted on Monday, October 16, 2017 by Ford Partner Relations

After spending September hosting startups and listening to pitches in 10 different cities across eight different countries, Andreas Brockers, Ford Business Strategy Analyst – Connected Vehicles, can't wait to see more.

Brockers estimates he and the Ford Europe team talked to over 300 developers, engineers and entrepreneurs during the Country Tour. At each event, FordDev demonstrated the power of SYNC AppLink and the opportunities the platform creates. The Ford Europe team also provided access to valuable developer resources, such as the AppLink TDK. At each event, developers pitched their solutions not only to the Ford team, but also to the crowd, getting invaluable feedback.

"It was very interesting to meet all those different people," Brockers told the Ford Developer Blog. "We saw a lot of different ideas and technologies." The sessions included networking, where attendees got to interface directly with Ford personnel. Those developers whose ideas and concepts didn't directly relate to AppLink were connected with appropriate Ford resources—often right there at the event.

Many Country Tour attendees are now applying for the annual #MakeitDriveable Startup Challenge, being held this year in Paris, France on October 25th and 26th.

The FordDev website has all the resources AppLink developers need, and the #MakeitDriveable Startup Challenge site has all the event details:

Vehicle data, cross-platform support excite developers at SDL Hackathon

Posted on Friday, September 29, 2017 by Ford Partner Relations

Rauhmel Fox of WHOmentors.com is a battle-tested hackathon veteran. But he came away from the first-ever sdlDeveloper Hackathon excited by the potential, and reality, of SmartDeviceLink.

“I don’t think a lot of developers really understand,” Fox told FordDev. “We’re talking about an opportunity where the cars are coming together with the devices. That’s an untold level of connection.”

Fox, who came away from the event $5,000 richer, said he’d had experience developing for prior generations of Ford SYNC—but writing for Android and iOS, mapping to a platform used by many major domestic and international OEMs with a userbase of millions? It’s a literal new world of possibilities.

“I’m an Air Force Academy graduate, so my mindset is a little bit broader, [thinking more about] national appeal,” Fox said, “as opposed to just the joke of the day or the app of the day. So the breadth of, ‘Wow, this could be in other cars, it could be in other vehicles, it could be in other units,’ was more exciting to me than when it was one brand of car only.”

Ford Global Lead for Business Development and Partner Management Scott Burnell could sense the contestants’ eagerness to create cross-platform solutions.

“They’ve always been excited about working with Ford—hopefully,” he added with a laugh. “But now that you can say, ‘Hey, here’s Ford, here’s Toyota, here’s Suzuki, here’s Mazda all standing in the same room, and when you get your applications to work we can show you how it’ll work on the head units of each of these OEMs,’ that’s exciting for them and makes everything that much bigger.”

Fox cited the hands-on support as a major factor in how far he was able to take his solution.

“Having access to the engineers, obviously, was very helpful,” he said. “The initial issue for me was grappling [with] what was the SmartDeviceLInk about, what was going on; it was my first exposure to it. Obviously, having engineers there actually had built on it before crystallized for me where this could go.” Fox also appreciated having the head units on-hand, so he could instantly see the look and feel of the user experience across the multiple OEMs. “Third, just overall, the mood of people being agreeable and listening and being able to bounce ideas off of them,” he said. “Those three elements were critical for me.”

“I think with any hackathon, it boils down to getting started,” Burnell said. “We’ve gone to a master class that really lays it out for them, and we make sure that we have our support team really, really hands-on right at the beginning to help them kick off and get moving in the right direction.”

That robust support, as well as the growing maturity of the SYNC AppLink and SDL developer community, empowered the SDL Hackathon entrants to push their solutions farther—both in terms of innovation, and commercial viability.

“What we saw this time,” Burnell said, “was many of the teams were a little more refined with the features they were creating by being able to access vehicle data, and turn that around into an actual comprehensive application for their presentation.”

Fox knew he wanted to focus on driver safety. After doing some research, he saw an opportunity in emergency services solutions—and to have a compelling story to tell when presenting. Looking for resources to tap into, he discovered the Automated Packet Reporting System (ARPS), a digital channel for ham radio signals.

“[Even] as an emergency actions officer and air-battle manager, I’d never heard of that system,” Fox said, “though it had been developed by a contemporary of mine at the Naval Academy.” By connecting to ARPS via SDL, Fox could broadcast GPS location and vehicle-status data to a satellite-enabled network of 1.3 million volunteers.

“I do attend more than 50 hackathons a year,” Fox said. “However, I use the hackathons to identify applications for real-world needs. In contrast to the other developers, my goal wasn’t to focus on winning the prize; I actually wanted to find something that was useful.”

He did just that. In fact, Fox intends to publish his emergency services app.

“I’ve actually announced for a team of trainees to come learn about SDL and the application I’ve developed,” Fox said. “I’ve got a team putting it together, anticipating that I’ll be able to offer that app to the Ford team so it can be available on the AppStore.”

For Burnell, the most exciting part of the hackathon was the level of developer interest. The new FordDev developer relations committee created this event with very little lead time before MWCA17, yet it was nearly a packed house—over 40 individuals in a contest with a maximum capacity of 50.

Though Fox and the other entrants were able to create a diverse set of innovative, viable solutions overnight, developers are just beginning to tap into the power and possibility of SmartDeviceLink—both in the depth of vehicle data, and the breadth of the entire world.

Interview with Sam Matheny, CTO, National Association of Broadcasters

Posted on Friday, July 07, 2017 by Ford Partner Relations

Developers have always felt the tension of innovation: torn between the possibilities of cutting-edge tech, and the benefits of developing for a mature platform.

But National Association of Broadcasters CTO Sam Matheny says revolutionary new hardware and exploding mobile data networks offer broadcasters and developers the chance to start a "virtuous cycle"—a win-win scenario that makes trusted, high-quality broadcast content a key driver for mobile app and hardware sales.

As Ford's Scott Burnell told NAB members at their annual Radio Show Luncheon, those innovations and opportunities are coming together in what could be the "new living room": the connected car.

After decades of AM/FM radio and NTSC TV, over the last 10 years consumers have experienced an explosion of broadcast technology. From satellite radio and HD flatscreens, to HD Radio and 4K UHD smart TVs, the quality and features offered to users has grown astronomically. Over the same period, smartphones have opened new worlds of social and streaming apps, revolutionizing the way people get their information and entertainment. As mobile apps and IoT technology converge inside the connected car, the rate of change is thrillingly fast—and getting faster.

Yet according to Nielsen figures provided by NAB, 265 million Americans over age five regularly listen to AM/FM radio. That's 93 percent of the U.S. population!

When it comes to choosing between the massive legacy audience and exciting new tech, though, "It's not an either/or decision; it's a both/and," Matheny told the Ford Developer Blog. "We think that this rate of change really presents lots of opportunities for broadcasters to open up their relationships with their audiences and their communities."

Hundreds of millions of people regularly listen to over-the-air radio, including 93 percent of millennials at an average rate of 11 hours a week. It's still the No. 1 way people discover new music. The audience is there, the hardware is there, and AppLink gives broadcasters and developers a platform linking the two.

"The opportunity is tremendous, but it's not one in isolation," Matheny said. "Yes, of course, we would love to have radio apps, be that iHeart, or NextRadio or individual station-branded apps in the automobile. But to me, that would just be the beginning. Where I begin to really get excited, and what our members are getting excited about, is when they begin to wrap their heads around something like AppLink."

Radio broadcasters have always sought to maximize audience interactivity—from fielding listener requests and sponsorship giveaways, to call-in talk shows driven by user-generated content. With SYNC3, AppLink and the Ford Developer the opportunities for broadcasters and developers to create customized, compelling user experiences are unprecedented.

Matheny outlined the problem broadcasters are facing as they try to maximize these opportunities—the same problems facing developers on the cutting edge of the mobile space: Can they afford to iterate solutions across many different proprietary ecosystems? Where do they invest development resources? Where do they place their bets?

"We're really excited by the idea of SmartDeviceLink," Matheny said, referring to the open-source platform on which AppLink is built. "Now, as the developer community works with radio as part of their solution stack, you can develop something that can potentially play across several different car lines. That's a big checkmark, because that gets scale and it enables people to feel like, 'this has enough legs that I can invest here."

But AppLink and SDL offer broadcasters far more than just an open-source platform that ports radio apps across many different makers and models.

"Radio doesn't have to just be radio," Matheny said. "How do you take that experience, and know you have connectivity into the car and think, 'What else can I do with that? How can I create a better, more rich experience?'

"Maybe it's one that's personalized," Matheny continued. "Is it raining? Are the headlights on? Is the fuel almost empty? You may have access to other data, like if the person is a Starbucks drinker and whether there's one around the corner. There are all sorts of different opportunities that combine themselves."

Software that marries high-quality broadcast content, an enormous user base, unprecedented audience engagement and cutting-edge streaming technologies will drive Americans' information and entertainment consumption habits for years to come.

To be a part of it all, sign up for the Ford Developer Program and start learning how SYNC3 and AppLink are already shaping the future (and present) of digital media!

 

ALE 0.5.0 Released!

Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 by Ford Partner Relations

Another update to ALE has been released! Head over to the AppLink Emulator page under Develop to view the release notes and download v
.5.
.

ALE 0.4.0 Release

Posted on Friday, August 16, 2013 by Ford Partner Relations

Great news Developers! ALE
.4.
is now released!

With this latest update, ALE
.4.
now supports most of the RPCs available in-vehicle including Speak, Alert, AddCommand, PerformInteraction, and many more. We additionally re-defined the UI to include two panels that allow you to emulate issuing voice commands and choice set selections.

We remain dedicated to improving ALE's features and functionalities in the upcoming weeks. Refer to the Readme and accompanying guide to find information regarding the use of ALE.


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