When we built the SmartDeviceLink software, our vision was bigger than just a platform for Ford. It had the potential to be an API (application program interface) that could be used industry-wide to accelerate the development of game-changing apps to better connect drivers with their vehicles.

We are happy to announce a big step towards that vision. Toyota will be the first company outside the Ford family to adopt our SmartDeviceLink (SDL) software. With the goal of enabling virtually any vehicle to link to virtually any device, SDL promises to give consumers an unprecedented level of control over smartphone apps while on the road using voice commands and other technology.

Seeking a unified standard

A unified standard for in-car connectivity will enable auto manufacturers, device makers and software developers to speed the pace of innovation in the automotive space, improving existing integrations between vehicles and smartphones, while opening the door to new user experiences.

While Toyota is the first company to adopt the SDL platform, automakers including Honda, Subaru, Mazda and PSA Peugeot Citroën are already in the process of conducting trials.

“Developing a safer and more secure in-car smartphone connectivity service – which better matches individual vehicle features – is exactly the value and advantage an automaker can offer customers,” said Shigeki Terashi, executive vice president, Toyota Motor Corporation. “We expect that many companies share our view and will participate in the industry SmartDeviceLink collaboration.”

More features and more apps

Features and services already enabled by SDL include popular apps like Spotify, AccuWeather, and Glympse. As more automakers begin to integrate SDL into their vehicles, developers can focus on building new and exciting user experiences rather than worrying about porting apps to a myriad of incompatible platforms.

In addition to car manufacturers, BlackBerry subsidiary QNX Software Systems has also adopted SDL, with plans to bake it into their products. For its part, Ford has pledged to deliver a new version of AppLink built atop SDL later this year that allows drivers to access their favorite smartphone navigation app from their car. Ford hopes that AppLink will reach more than 30 million vehicles by 2020.