Toyota and Ford team up to standardise smartphone integration

6 January 2017
, GoAutoMedia

Ford and Toyota, alongside other brands including Mazda, Suzuki, Subaru and PSA Group, have come together in an alliance to set the standard for smartphone and vehicle connectivity.

The non-profit open-source software development – called SmartDeviceLink – aims to uniform the interaction between phone and car, streamlining the hardware and software implementation process for car-makers, suppliers and app developers.

For users, this means that more smartphone applications and services will be available for use in vehicles, and will make it easier for developers to implement more features which could include control via steering wheel-mounted buttons or through voice commands.

Building on Ford's AppLink program – currently in use in around five million vehicles worldwide – the new smartphone connection standard could replace Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto as a universally accepted device-to-vehicle mirroring link.

While many manufacturers have opted to omit multimedia features like satellite navigation in favour of the aforementioned Apple and Android smartphone mirroring programs, no car-maker has yet to implement the feature across its entire model line-up.

The collaboration was birthed from a need to unify phone-to-vehicle connections.

Toyota Connected Company president Shigeki Tomoyama said the relationship and user interface between smart devices and vehicles is crucial to customers.

"Connectivity between smartphones and the vehicle interface is one of the most important connected services," he said.

"Using SmartDeviceLink, we can provide this service to our customers in a safe and secure manner. We are excited to collaborate with many auto manufacturers and suppliers who share our view."

While, Consortium director and Ford global director of connected vehicles and services Doug VanDagens said the collaboration was birthed from a need to unify phone-to-vehicle connections.

"Encouraging innovation is at the centre of Ford's decision to create SmartDeviceLink and this consortium is a major step toward that goal," he said.

"Consumers will win with new, innovative app experiences from increased collaboration and developer engagement."

Other consortium members include suppliers Elektrobit, Luxoft and Xevo, with letters of intent from Harmon, Panasonic, Pioneer and QNX.

The first SmartDeviceLink systems are expected to arrive on the market in the next few years.

Do you want to see a universal standard for smartphone mirroring in vehicles, or is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto enough? Tell us what you think in the comments below.