Ford Media Center

SmartDeviceLink Gains Momentum as Industry-Driven Option for Smartphone App Integration into Vehicle Dashboards

  • Open-source version of Ford AppLink, called SmartDeviceLink or SDL, is being studied by Toyota for future integration into vehicles for command and control of smartphone apps through dashboard buttons, display screens and voice recognition technology

  • Adoption of SDL by other vehicle manufacturers and suppliers gives customers more choice in how they connect and control their smartphones, and drives growth of the automotive developer community by creating apps that work across different brands and vehicles

  • SDL allows automakers to maintain control of user interface design for product differentiation while also helping provide an improved consumer experience through new entertainment, information and navigation app development

DEARBORN, Mich., June 3, 2015 – With today’s announcement of Toyota exploring adoption of SmartDeviceLink technology, traction is gaining for the open-source software project goal of creating an automotive industry-based solution for integrating smartphone apps into vehicles.

“Dashboard interface design and smartphone connectivity are key elements for product differentiation within the industry,” said Don Butler, executive director, Ford Connected Vehicle and Services. “At Ford, we view all aspects of time behind the wheel as core to the experience we provide customers. We’re pleased other members of the industry feel the same way, and look forward to working together to drive even more support for the SDL developer community.”

In Ford vehicles equipped with SYNC®, AppLink serves as the application programming interface that allows smartphone apps such as Spotify, Glympse, iHeartRadio, Pandora and others to be easily accessed by drivers using voice recognition and dashboard controls. Click here to see AppLink in action.

Ford created SmartDeviceLink by contributing the AppLink software to the open-source community. The goal is to help drive growth of the automotive app developer community and provide automakers a way to maintain innovative and differentiated connectivity and navigation systems that deliver on their customers’ expectations for smartphone app integration.

SDL software allows access to in-vehicle controls including display screens, buttons and the voice recognition engine to deliver a fully integrated app experience for customers.

Toyota engineering is actively engaging with the SDL project, and investigating further collaboration with Livio and Ford. Livio, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford Motor Company, is the project maintainer of SmartDeviceLink technology, which can be found at or

SDL aims to provide a myriad of capabilities for automakers and developers:

  • Customization of the overall look and feel of the connectivity and navigation system user experience and connected services to support appropriate brand attributes while leveraging the standardized SDL protocol for command and control of smartphone apps

  • Broad device and platform compatibility, since SDL is agnostic and communicates with the smartphone apps. This means consumers are not limited to having the latest devices, operating system software versions or platforms

  • Globally accessible, limited only by app availability in each market

  • Works with vehicle-embedded voice recognition technology, and so not limited by cellular connections or available bandwidth for functionality

  • Facilitates scale and speed to market for developers since apps only need to be integrated once to work across multiple automotive platforms

  • Empowers consumers by providing technology that clearly communicates and requests permission for sharing of personal and vehicle data to apps that enhance customer experience

“We first introduced AppLink to serve our customers’ desire to access their apps inside the car,” said Butler. “Then we launched the Ford Developer Program to support the ecosystem of developers creating new, innovative experiences. Now, with SmartDeviceLink, we’re demonstrating our long-term commitment to our customers, and the industry overall, to make it easy for smartphones and cars to work together everywhere around the world.”

Branded as AppLink, SDL technology is currently available on more than 5 million Ford vehicles in North America, South America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. Three new markets are slated to come on board this year – Taiwan, New Zealand and Thailand.

Earlier this year, Ford also contributed technology to the SDL project that allows navigation app providers to project their maps and user experience into a properly equipped vehicle in order to bring smartphone navigation to the car – an important feature in markets like China.

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan, committed to helping build a better world, where every person is free to move and pursue their dreams.  The company’s Ford+ plan for growth and value creation combines existing strengths, new capabilities and always-on relationships with customers to enrich experiences for customers and deepen their loyalty.  Ford develops and delivers innovative, must-have Ford trucks, sport utility vehicles, commercial vans and cars and Lincoln luxury vehicles, along with connected services.  The company does that through three customer-centered business segments:  Ford Blue, engineering iconic gas-powered and hybrid vehicles; Ford Model e, inventing breakthrough EVs along with embedded software that defines exceptional digital experiences for all customers; and Ford Pro, helping commercial customers transform and expand their businesses with vehicles and services tailored to their needs.  Additionally, Ford provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company.  Ford employs about 177,000 people worldwide.  More information about the company and its products and services is available at

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