In-car connectivity is seen as the next big marketing tool for automakers, and Ford wants to make sure its on the leading edge of in-car app
development. The automaker has promised to double the number of apps available for its SYNC system
, with details coming at next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Ford’s current catalog of SYNC-compatible apps include Pandora, Stitcher, Slacker Radio, iHeart Radio and OpenBeak, a Twitter interface. That should mean the announcement of five more next week, but ten apps are just the tip of the iceberg.
As Doug VanDagens, global director of Ford Connected Services, told USA Today
, “If we don’t have more than 50 to 75 apps, I will be disappointed.” To that end, Ford is opening a new research facility in California’s Silicon Valley to “drive innovation in personal mobility.”
While the facility won’t be used exclusively to create in-car apps, its focus will be on using technology to improve the driving experience. That means finding ways to reduce gridlock, save fuel, improve sensing systems, and boost in-car connectivity.
Expect much of the work to tie back to in-car apps
and even third-party hardware solutions. One area of emphasis is Ford’s OpenXC
, an open-source platform that allows hardware and software developers to access vehicle data in order to create cloud-based services and apps.
While self-driving cars are still decades away, it’s clear that Ford’s new Silicon Valley lab will be working on related systems and technology. After all, who wants to waste time driving in the brave, new, uber-connected world?