Ford Developer Blog

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

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

Rauhmel Fox of 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.

Fleet Fuel Management Solution and Touch Based Infotainment System Named the Winners of the 2018 Make It Driveable Challenge Tel Aviv

Posted on Monday, September 10, 2018 by Ford Partner Relations

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL, September 5, 2018

Ford Motor Company today announced JiFleet Virtual Fuel Management Solution for Fleets, and Inpris – the company behind Sightless Touch, a user-friendly distraction-free interface for operating infotainment systems as the winners of the fourth annual Make it Driveable Challenge Tel Aviv.

The event took place during the DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival this week, which draws hundreds of high-tech companies, investors and international corporations together. The Challenge attracted more than 140 developers and service providers, with 23 teams from Israel and Europe participating in the two-day challenge earlier this week.

Each team was given an opportunity to meet with mentors consisting of Ford senior executives from Mobility, Data Digital Services, Connected Vehicle Platform and Credit, Bloomberg journalist and Ford partners.

Ford also invited a group of real customers, consisting of millennials and generation X’ers to provide feedback on each of the applications. “We really provided something unique at our Ford Make It Driveable Challenge this year. Interacting with the focus group at such an early stage will reduce time wasted in the market testing process and will help verify usability and scalability of the applications,” said Scott Lyons, Business & Partner Development, Connected Vehicle Platform and Products, Ford of Europe.

A panel of judges comprised of Ford team members, Waze and distinguished guests named JiFleet and Inpris the winners of the 2018 Make it Driveable Challenge.

JiFleet was founded in 2016 and its winning platform provides a card-less white label payment method for fuel for fleets, integrated with fleet management platforms. JiFleet provides an end-to-end solution for fleet managers; identifying the driver, vehicle and even recommending the optimal fuel load to carry. Sharing the top prize, Inpris, the touch based infotainment systems solutions provider, presented an innovative HMI that enables superior infotainment control and driver awareness, all while allowing drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

“The creativity level I have seen over the past couple days is sky high. The Israeli ecosystem has once again proved to be fruitful and very advanced, both in the tech world but also in the automotive world. The wide-ranging topics discussed and presented, by various Israeli and European start-ups are the best proof of the diversity of the automotive industry and the constant progress it is making,” said Don Butler, Ford executive director, Connected Vehicle Platform and Products.

Two other participating companies gained awards during the Challenge: fleet management platform Bit Logistech and Mappo, a platform designed to connect content with locations – were named as worthy winners.

The Challenge gave mobile app developers and digital service companies access to Ford’s own development team, allowing them to work with AppLink on SYNC® 3 to create new ways for customers to stay connected while on the go. With access to over 15 million AppLink enabled vehicles worldwide, the Make It Driveable challenge is an incredible opportunity for developers and service providers to attract a whole new audience and revenue stream by ‘Getting In The Car’ with Ford.


Developer opportunities in the connected car: Scott Burnell speaks at IoTW 17

Posted on Friday, June 2, 2017 by Ford Partner Relations

Internet of Things World 2017 was the fourth-annual world forum for the cutting edge of IoT technology—developers, companies, solutions, products and thought leaders building connectivity and big data into everything we do.

Consumers staying connected and engaged with their life while on the road is a huge opportunity for everyone involved in mobile tech. It's no surprise, then, that IoTW 17 had a conference track built around products and strategies for connected and autonomous cars.

Ford Global Lead for Business Development and Partner Management Scott Burnell gave a talk, "Evolving In-Vehicle Content and Developer Opportunities," that made the Internet of Things Institute's list of the top 10 trends coming out of the conference.

Burnell also talked with IoTI about why it's vital that Ford cross-pollinate its innovative in-house engineering with talented developers across the tech industry (and the world!). Burnell explains at the 0:25 mark of this IoTI video recapping Day 2 of the conference:

AppLink/SDL iOS Library Version 5.2.0

Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2018 by Ford Partner Relations

Dear AppLink Partner,

We just released a new version of the SmartDeviceLink Library for iOS

## Benefits of updating:

  • SDLScreenManager which will allow easier handling of the current view on the headunit. You can find a guide here.
  • More enhancements in the Changelog
  • Many Bugfixes and improvements.

  To download the library, you can:

  • [recommended] Update your podfile (please note that we changed the podspec from “SmartDeviceLink-iOS” to “SmartDeviceLink” in order to be ready for future improvements).
  • Download the Library from here.

Pre 5.0.0 users:

5.0.0 introduced some breaking changes and required a major version bump. If you are already use the new manager you can use this guide to upgrade to 5.0.0. If you are a long time user of the library and are still using the proxy directly, please also check out this guide.

 v.5.2.0 - Screen Manager

This release adds a new SDLScreenManager which enables easier use of (so far) text, graphics, and soft buttons. Access it through the screenManager property on SDLManager.


  • Add a screen manager which currently handles text, graphics, and soft buttons [SDL-0134] #862
    • Add soft button object and states, which allow for declaratively designing soft buttons with multiple states
  • You can now create an SDLArtwork without a name and a name will be generated based on a hash of the data. You can also now upload an artwork through SDLFileManager and have uploaded artwork names passed back to you [SDL-0124] #865
  • You can now batch send RPCs either as a batch, or sequentially, waiting for the previous RPC request to respond before sending the next one. This may be useful for batch sending addCommands or for sending a performInteraction immediately after the createInteraction finishes [SDL-0087] #723
  • There is now a change registration manager for managing language [SDL-0054] #617

Bug Fixes

  • (Navigation / Projection Apps) Fix single taps often being recognized as a pan; there is now a customizable threshold at which pans will be registered; it defaults to 8px #884
  • Fixed crash when using log files #872
  • Fix SDLUploadFileOperation not finishing on error #860
  • Work around a module ListFiles bug on previous SDL Core versions #827

See all the changes and the changelog.

This release is made up of 188 commits.

Thanks to contributors @joeljfischer@NicoleYarroch@kshala-ford@t-yoshii@Lievesley@shoamano83.

v5.1.0 - Automatic Video Streaming

This release makes significant feature additions around video and audio streaming for NAVIGATION and PROJECTION applications. There are additional fixes and additions for all applications.


  • Log unsuccessful RPC responses automatically.
  • IAP Transport reconnection optimizations.
  • Adds SDLAudioStreamManager that does on-the-fly transcoding of audio files to an SDL compatible PCM format and can send that audio to be played. This is for NAVIGATION applications only.
  • CarWindow automated ViewController based streaming.

Bug Fixes

  • Fix SDLSlider initializer infinite recursion.
  • Fix crash if disconnected while setting up the app icon.

See all the changes, and the changelog.

This release is made up of 124 commits. Thanks to contributors @joeljfischer and @NicoleYarroch.

v5.0.0 – Modernized API

This release makes breaking changes and enhancements to your SDL workflow. See all the changes, and the changelog. See the news post for some code examples of what's new!

The guides have been totally updated and new functionality has been covered in new guides. Check out the guide to update from pre-v4.3 to v4.3+ and from v4.3+ to v5.0.

This release is made up of 736 commits.

Thanks to contributors @brettywhite@ChrisB-Elektrobit@cromotron@harisheb@joeljfischer,

 @mrapitis@NicoleYarroch@piyushkhosla@Rconroy@shoamano83, Takamitsu Yoshii, and William Wallace.

Breaking Changes

  • SDLProxy.streamingMediaManager is now removed. If you wish to use a streaming media manager, you must use SDLManager.streamingMediaManager. The streaming media manager has been entirely redesigned and now takes into account both phone and head unit app lifecycles SDL-0033. There is now a streaming media configuration added to SDLConfiguration.
  • SDLJingle constants have been removed #7.
  • Public files SDLJsonEncoder.hSDLJsonDecoder.hSDLDecoder.h, and SDLEncoder.h have been removed #8.
  • SDLSiphonServer has been removed; if something similar is needed, it may be custom built and inserted into the SDLLogManager #85.
  • RPC array and dictionary properties are now immutable #152.
  • SDLOnWaypointChange, a misspelling of SDLOnWayPointChange has been removed #489.
  • SDLRPCStruct and all RPC subclasses now take an immutable dictionary to decode #122SDL-0005SDL-0005.
  • SDL enums are now all stringly typed in Objective-C, and swift enums in Swift #20 SDL-0006.
  • iOS 6 and iOS 7 are no longer supported SDL-0008 SDL-0024.
  • Use nullability annotations throughout the project #73 SDL-0018.
  • Remove SDLRPCRequestFactory, initializers now exist on most RPC classes SDL-0020.
  • SDLTTSChunkFactory was removed, use the initializers on SDLTTSChunk instead SDL-0021.
  • Handler events now provide better parameters instead of generic ones SDL-0027.


  • Most properties are now nonatomic, which should speed up the library significantly #49.
  • SDLLockScreenViewController now uses template images, reducing the size of the library #450.
  • RPC classes now conform to NSCopying SDL-0011.
  • Added convenience methods for pulling out SDL notifications from NSNotification callbacks #553.
  • SDLTouchManager now supports gesture cancellation #673.
  • SDLStreamingMediaManager now supports automatic GetSystemCapability calls #686.
  • SDLRegisterAppInterfaceResponse fixed pcmCapabilities not being exposed #714.
  • Generics have been added for collections throughout the library SDL-0007.
  • SDLFileManager will not stream from a file on disk if possible SDL-0025.
  • SDLFileManager added methods for sending multiple files in one call SDL-0029.
  • Added additional SDLManager delegate methods for all onHMIStatus state changes SDL-0032.
  • Added a handler to SDLPerformAudioPassThru SDL-0035.
  • SDLStreamingMediaManager now supports H.264 + RTP SDL-0048.
  • Added SDL Remote Control baseline SDL-0071.
  • Focusable items can now be sent (to Core 4.4+) and a manager exists that will automatically handle finding and sending those rects if a UIWindow is set in the SDLStreamingMediaConfiguration. They will also be passed back to the developer through the SDLTouchManagerDelegate SDL-0075 SDL-0081 SDL-0090.

Bug Fixes

  • Services are now properly ended with hash ids #661.
  • Constants are now unified into one style #711.
  • Fix streaming media manager always assumed 30fps streaming; it can now be custom set by developers in the video encoding dictionary #717.
  • Fix a possible crash if the List Files request from the FileManager fails due to disconnection or unregistration #789.


  • SDL constants are now constants instead of #define #3.
  • Some protocol property and enum names were incorrect but now fixed #275.
  • Internal getters and setters on RPC classes no longer repeat code everywhere #493.
  • SDLOnLockScreenStatus does not use constants for property keys #497.
  • Removed deprecated methods #679.

2018 Ford Hackathon Argentina

Posted on Thursday, April 26, 2018 by Ford Partner Relations

The next edition of Ford's Hack'n'Sync challenge comes to Campus Party at the Tecnóplis Showroom in Buenos Aires, Argentina, April 26-27

Thursday, April 26

Ford's integrated open talks and workshops by Ford executives.

Friday, April 27

Ford’s Hack‘n’Sync challenge begins. This is where creative and passionate designers, application developers and project leaders from around the world will gather to enjoy 10 hours of open coding experience. The objective will be to create disruptive and innovative mobile applications within 10 hours that contribute to improving people’s quality of life by seeking efficiencies in the way we move.


This is the second year that Ford will host the Hack‘n’Sync challenge with Ford AppLink®, a 10-hour hackathon that was developed within the local Campus Party edition, in the Tecnópolis showroom and runs from April 26 to 27. As the only automaker in attendance, Ford will host workshops and open talks led by Ford executives.

The goal of the Hack‘n’Sync challenge is to create disruptive and innovative mobile applications that contribute to improving people’s quality of life, seeking efficiencies in the way we move. To achieve this, creative and passionate designers, application developers and project leaders from around the world are invited to enjoy 10 hours of open coding experience.

Using AppLink software to open code, the creative process of each team will result in a series of applications that will be presented to the jury and will be evaluated according to the degree of innovation, creativity and possible use in the vehicles.

In addition, Ford will also host two workshops in which executives will provide more tools to attendees to further develop their projects. The first workshop is entitled Design Thinking and will be hosted by Carla Isler, Ford Argentina, IT Business Area Relationship Manager. Design Thinking is a methodology that is changing the way we address complex problems and will help attendees to start thinking about Mobility solutions, ideation and prototyping for the Hack‘n’Sync. The final workshop is entitled AppLink Open Class where attendees can learn about how to use AppLink to control Android apps. This workshop will be hosted by Agustín Perez Moreno, Ford Argentina, Senior Connected Services Engineer.

Prizes up for grabs are a Notebook Gamer LEGION Y720 i7 16 worth $1,500.00USD, a Cellular Motorola Z2 + MOD JBL Sound Boost worth $1,000.00USD and a PlayStation 4 PRO worth $500.00USD.

<< Previous Page