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.

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

Posted on Friday, June 02, 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:

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.

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:


Latest Version of SmartDeviceLink Library just released for IOS

Posted on Thursday, March 08, 2018 by Ford Partner Relations

The latest version of the SmartDeviceLink Library for iOS was released Feb.14, 2018, bringing a host of bugfixes and two new features that improve implementation of mobile navigation apps.

CarWindow allows you to hand over a UIWindow to the Library, which will automatically capture the screen and send it over* (click here for implementation guide); while SDLAudioStreamManager, which has a similar interface to AVPlayer, takes a given audio input and converts it to SDL compatible PCM before sending it out (implementation guide here).

To download the library, you can update your podfile (recommended – note that podspec has changed from “SmartDeviceLink-iOS” to “SmartDeviceLink), or alternatively download the library from here.

* This is not as performant as using a direct openGL conversion.


Pre 5.0.0 users:

5.0.0 introduced some breaking changes and required a major version bump. If you are already using 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.

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, the changelog, or the news post for 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, @ChrisBElektrobit, @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.
  • SDL-0033. There is now a streaming media configuration added to SDLConfiguration.
  • SDLJingle constants have been removed #7.
  • Public files SDLJsonEncoder.h, SDLJsonDecoder.h, SDLDecoder.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-0005, SDL-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.


Source: AppLink/SDL Platform and Partner Development Team

Connected Vehicle & Services

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