Ford announced the release of a new software tool that will let developers see how their apps work in a Ford vehicle from a desktop computer. The tool, called the Ford Sync 3 AppLink Emulator, helps developers build or convert their smartphone apps for integration in Ford vehicles equipped with the Sync 3 infotainment system.
The Ford Sync 3 AppLink Emulator will be available as a free download from the Ford Developer Program website.
Automakers have deployed a number of schemes to create a connected experience in the dashboard, similar to what drivers are used to on their smartphones. Some involve a dedicated data connection in the car, with software services programmed into the dashboard infotainment system, while others integrate driver smartphones with the infotainment system. In addition, Apple and Google have each released integration software for iOS and Android, called Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, that are being adopted by many automakers.
Ford released Sync 3, the third generation of its infotainment software, last year. Sync 3 employed a number of improvements over previous generations, including a visual version of AppLink, its app integration software. With Sync 3, supported apps running on an attached smartphone become accessible on the car's touchscreen, using a common interface designed to reduce driver distraction.
The emulation software replicates the Sync 3 dashboard interface on a desktop computer. A developer can plug a smartphone into the computer's USB port and see how her app will look and work.
Ford also notes that developers will be able to set the simulated vehicle's speed, location, temperature and mileage in the emulator. These settings will let developers test apps that rely on driving data points.
The emulation software comes ahead of Ford's Sync AppLink Developer Conference, scheduled during the CTIA Super Mobility 2016 conference in Las Vegas this September.