MWC Barcelona shines a light on versatility and potential of AppLink

The booths have been disassembled, the head-units have been switched off, and the FordDev Team is back at base - but the momentum and enthusiasm they witnessed first-hand at MWC Barcelona is sure to drive them forward in the coming months.

With successful announcements and demonstrations of AppLink's new marquee partners - including Waze, WebEx, Acast, and Radioplayer - the FordDev Team enjoyed huge interest and footfall at their Connected Services exhibit.

But as well as showcasing the apps themselves, MWC Barcelona shone a light both on the versatility of AppLink and the benefits of working with Ford to develop new ideas.

Speaking after the event, Andreas Brockers (Business and Partner Development, Connected Vehicles and Services, Ford Europe), said: "MWC was a really positive event. Not only did it provide an opportunity to meet a lot of startups and explain the technology to them, but we also had many of our existing partners on site for the first time, joining us in interviews and demonstrations.

"For the FordDev Team this was great, because we got to hear our partners giving feedback on working with AppLink; explaining to interested parties the benefits of partnering with Ford, the potential they see in the project, and also the huge boost in brand visibility they have experienced thanks to Ford's marketing strategy.

"There were a lot of business cards exchanged as a result, and we've already been in touch with some of the startups we met in Barcelona."

With increased industry interest in SDL, MWC allowed the FordDev Team to put AppLink through its paces. Running six Technology Development Kits (TDKs) side by side, attendees could see how these new mobile apps worked on the road. Andreas explained: "We could show visitors the huge amount of possibilities when working with AppLink - be it using a template-based approach or (for navigation apps) streaming content directly to the head-unit."

"It was a great opportunity for people who were not familiar with the technology to see how apps, be it Acast or Waze, can work seamlessly on different head units."

These demonstrations also provided an unexpected opportunity to test the robustness of the open source initiative: "Also at the Ford exhibit, visitors could see the integration of SDL-enabled apps running on two additional SDL member head-units provided by Toyota and PSA (maker of Peugeot and Citroën vehicles). During a Ford demonstration someone said: 'Well, here's this PSA unit, and you say this open source technology will work everywhere - so why don't we unplug the phone from your Ford unit and plug it into the PSA unit?'

“So we did – and this had never been done before in a public setting. In fact, the PSA group had not previously worked together with the developer at all – and it worked immediately, and perfectly.
"It was just a really nice moment for us, and it showed yet again that this technology is very powerful. There is huge potential in the system, and we're confident that OEMs working together can get the most out of it."

Looking ahead, Andreas sees Barcelona as a strong indicator that SDL and AppLink are getting close to achieving critical mass: "Barcelona was great in terms of media coverage - we saw more than 100 articles generated in Europe because of our presence at MWC, and that speaks to the momentum and interest we're seeing for the project."

For more on the apps announces and developed at MWC Barcelona, see https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/feu/en/news/2018/02/26/from-smartphone-to-big-screen--new-app-partners-help-ford-driver.htmll