​Toyota, Ford invite more automakers, app devs to their SmartDeviceLink lovefest at CES

Last year, Toyota and Ford entered into a partnership to share Livio's SDL apps platform. Today, they invite the rest of the industry to the party.

2016 Toyota Corolla S Special Edition
Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Last year, Toyota and Ford announced a partnership to develop and share Livio's SmartDeviceLink platform for use in their vehicles -- one step in what has turned out to be a long history of collaboration between the two brands.

Today, at CES 2016 in Las Vegas, the automakers welcome the rest of the industry and app developers to join their lovefest.

A bit of background: SmartDeviceLink is the open-source version of the Ford AppLink platform for smartphone apps and cars that allows customers to use apps in their vehicle through the voice recognition function. That means SDL lets you talk to your car to command compatible apps and those apps will appear on the touchscreen in the dashboard, so you can safely keep your hands on the wheel when queuing up your road trip playlist.

Livio -- a company that has grown from building smartphone car kits into full app integration platforms -- is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford and manages the open-source project.

Being open-source, any developer can build or adapt apps that are compatible with SDL, but Toyota and Ford seem to acknowledge that fragmenting the industry with yet another apps standard is a roadblock for many of these developers. The more automakers' telematics and infotainment systems that SDL grants access to, the sweeter the pot will be for developers and the more apps will be available to everyone's customers.

It's a win-win-win, but only if they can woo more automakers on board with their showcase of SmartDeviceLink this week at CES 2016. According to Toyota "automotive suppliers QNX Software Systems and UIEvolution also are adopting the technology, and automakers PSA Peugeot Citroën, Honda, Subaru and Mazda are also investigating the software standard."

Updated: We've added clarification regarding the nature of SDL and Livio's role in the partnership.

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