A while ago, I looked at BMW’s iPhone integration. They also have an SDK for third party app integration, but don’t seem to be very interested in opening up registration for developers. The Press info document from their 2012 event is missing.
So, this week I was invited by Ford Germany to have a look at their spring lineup of cars. I’ll leave judging the wheels and motors to other people.
I was there to look at Ford Sync and AppLink. I specifically asked their keynote speaker about their developer program, and what they have planned for Germany in particular. His answers: Germany starts with Spotify integration and the AppLink program is open to a handful of partners only.
I tried pairing my iPhone to the Sync system in a new Fiesta. What I got was A2DP and phone integration. Voice commands in German were understood okay-ish, but the hints given by the voice were misleading in places and plain wrong in others. They also failed to show me a car with the 8″ touch screen, and so I left.
Back home, I tried loading up developer.ford.com on my iPhone. Half the page is missing.
So one day later, I tried it on my truck (see what I did there?). And lo and behold, Ford opened up the developer program one month ago. Anyone can just sign up and submit their AppLink integration to Ford for approval. Somebody at Ford USA got the message about smartphone integration. However shoddy Sync may be, and however bad their press work in Germany may be, they seem to have at least some kind of idea what is going on outside the car.
Also great: Even the compact Fiesta gets Sync from the mid-range model without paying extra. BMW will force you to get the big headunit, the snap-in-adapter for the phone and a extra configuration package called Apps, that will flip a bit in the computer and add a little cable.