At this week's Mobile World Congress Ford announced an update to SYNC AppLink, the service which provides smartphone connectivity and app experiences within its cars.
SYNC AppLink currently allows US Ford owners an upgradable option to access their mobile apps in their cars by connecting their smartphone, allowing control of the apps whilst driving, but this year we’ll see the service integrated fully into several Ford models starting with the Ford EcoSport, due to launch in the UK this April.
Brand experiences on the road
For brands, this deeper integration of apps provides a greater opportunity to tap into the captive audience of drivers and passengers on the road to guarantee brand engagement where it may have previously been hard to do so. Content-heavy brands that can translate this content across multiple platforms have a particular advantage. SYNC AppLink now provides the chance to deliver personalised content to the driver based on a whole host of data, including journey type, time of day, length of time spent in the car and location.
This means drivers on their morning commute could read the day’s top stories from their favourite news app, get an update on their current account balance or tell the car they’re hungry and receive a selection of localised restaurant recommendations. Partners already offering their services include Spotify, Hotels.com, TomTom and Domino’s, meaning drivers can listen to their shared playlists, reserve a hotel room and order a pizza from behind the wheel.
What this means for developers
App development teams will breathe a sigh of relief to know that integration with SYNC AppLink is straightforward – existing iOS and Android apps can be connected using Ford's SDK to make adoptions as easy as possible. But brands will need to ensure that the information given to the driver and/or passengers is contextually relevant.
Towards the future
As the expectation consumers have to access the internet from anywhere, anytime, increases the onus will be on both brands and car manufactures to use the cloud to connect them to drivers. Contextual communication will go beyond using vehicle data to automatically optimise fuel consumption based on traffic. The connected car will talk to the connected home, telling the oven that the driver will be home later than expected so automatically record their favourite TV show, or lower the temperature in the oven to stop the dinner from burning.
We’ll see the introduction of biometrics in cars as consumers become more comfortable with using retina and finger print scanners to unlock devices thanks to the iPhone 5s. Cars will then use this data to determine who the driver is and adjust the car settings accordingly.
Connected-cars are here and in order for in-car apps to become universal, there needs to be standardisation across the industry to guarantee apps provide seamless branded experiences. At Nice, we’re partnered with Ford to connect brands and drivers through the next generation of in-car apps to give drivers the richest experience possible in today’s connected world.
Ryan Hall is managing director at Nice