Partner: Acast

Headquartered in Sweden, developers of the hugely popular podcast app ACast, was one of the winners of our Ford 2017 “Make it Driveable” Paris AppLink Challenge.

ACast is an audio-on-demand podcast app that offers offline downloads, an intelligent recommendation engine that analyses commute times to suggest podcasts which best fit with your journey length, enables listeners to interact with podcast creators in new and exciting ways, following and sharing moments from their favorite shows.

Below, they share their experience of working with the FordDev Team to make their app driveable.


Why was in-vehicle integration important to your company?
Acast’s mission is to empower audio creators all over the world and get their voices heard.

One of the places where audio is consumed the most is in cars - research shows that a quarter of people currently do so, and that number is growing rapidly.

We want to create a seamless experience to allow drivers to get access to their favorite stories.

Acast is the first podcast player in Ford vehicles.

How did you decide what features to extend to Ford owners through AppLink?
We wanted to focus on simplifying listening choices by offering auto-play to continue playing where a user left off when starting the car; easy access to subscribed shows and latest episodes; voice control for a save and instant playback; long/short drive feature to suggest relevant and recommended episodes matching the estimated driving duration.

How did SYNC voice command impact your development approach?
It allowed us to focus on a voice-first experience and easy navigation. We wanted to use minimal visual UI and instead double-down on voice commands.


What type of resource allocation did AppLink enablement require? 
1 product owner, 1 android developer, 1 backend developer, 1 voice designer over a course of 3-5 months.

How did the AppLink development experience differ with that of other OEM efforts? 
Although Acast has developed for Android Auto and CarPlay, working closely together with Ford opened many more opportunities to customize the experience and making use of voice features. Having hands on support from AppLink developers throughout development resulted in faster development cycles, iterations and a better end product for drivers. 


Was the testing process for an automotive adaptation of your mobile app similar or different from others you experienced?
Being familiar with testing on Emulators, it was a big difference to test the mobile app on the TDK provided by Ford which is an exact copy of the infotainment monitor used in vehicles. It helped us tremendously in spotting bugs early on in development as well as refining the driver experience.

Did the testing process highlight any usability issues you may not of been aware of previously? 
Yes. Since we’ve developed with an iterative approach, testing on the TDK helped us to tweak user flows several times until the best possible result for the driver was achieved.


Are you exploring any additional AppLink features based on your experience thus far?
Yes. We plan to add language support for more languages than English for listeners in our core markets, as well as develop Acast’s iOS app for AppLink.

What type of additional in-vehicle capabilities would you like to see become available for developers?
Natural language processing for a fully voice-controllable and seamless listening experience for drivers. At this stage drivers need to become familiar with using the right voice commands and although we’ve made use of synonyms, natural language processing could a true voice-enabled experience.


Any message, story, or information you would like to share with the FordDev community and potential AppLink developers?
Ford has been one of the best partners to work with. The AppLink developers are a young and dedicated team of engineers that are very responsive and thereby have helped us multiple times throughout development. We even had the chance to be invited to the MWC18 in Barcelona where we demoed our application along-side the Ford AppLink team which was an unforgettable experience.