Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Co. will use software developed by Ford Motor Co. in its cars to give drivers command and control of smartphone apps through dashboard buttons, display screens and voice recognition tech.
announced today that Toyota
, which has been considering this move for months, agreed to adopt the company’s SmartDeviceLink technology, an open source version of Ford AppLink. SDL is maintained by Livio, a subsidiary of Ford.
Automotive suppliers QNX Software Systems and UIEvolution also are adopting the technology and plan to integrate it into their products, Ford says. And more automakers, including Honda, Mazda, PSA Peugeot Citroën, and Subaru, may follow.
Automakers are scrambling to offer connectivity to their increasingly tech-savvy consumer base. In the past, infotainment systems developed by automakers had a bad rap for being difficult to use or becoming quickly out of date. Ford has received positive reviews for the most recent iteration of its in-car infotainment system. However, third-party companies—namely Apple
—have swooped in to fill the technological void left by other companies’ proprietary tech.
WATCH IT: Fortune chats with Ford CEO Mark Fields:
Several automakers, including BMW and Hyundai
, announced plans in 2015 to add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to future vehicle models. The two connectivity systems allow a smartphone to take over a car’s center screen. Once users plug their smartphone into the car’s USB port, the phone’s maps and navigation, music, and selected apps are integrated onto the central screen.
But not all carmakers, notably Toyota, are keen to connect with systems developed by Apple or Google.
Ford has taken an interesting strategy. The company is keeping Sync, the in-car communications and entertainment system that lets you use your voice to make a call, listen to music, voice-control, and select apps with its AppLink technology. And it’s pushing other automakers to adopt its software.
At the same time, the company is also adding Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In a separate announcement today, Ford says it will expand Sync by adding Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 4G LTE, and several new AppLink apps.
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In North America, all 2017 Ford models with the company’s Sync 3 infotainment platform will have CarPlay and Android Auto. Ford says owners of 2016 models will have the opportunity to upgrade “later this year.” There are more than 15 million Sync 3-equipped vehicles on roads around the world today and 43 million expected by 2020, according to Ford.
Later this year, Ford says it will introduce the next version of AppLink based on SmartDeviceLink software, an upgrade that will let owners access their favorite compatible navigation app—like they might do on a smartphone.