Autoblog picked up on an interesting story about Ford Motor Company’s (s f) efforts to create middleware that will let future cars interact with mobile devices, including iPhones. Sync, developed in conjunction with Microsoft (s msft), aims to not only give you access to your phone book and playlists, but also wants to allow you to use all those third-party apps you’ve downloaded.
Think about it: hands-free access to iPhone Apps as you drive. Sign us up.
One of the biggest hurdles creating an interface like this is getting developers to start working on apps that mobile device owners would want to use in their vehicles. “So Ford has to reach out to people eager to develop apps for cars, and make the process fun for the developers. Long approval periods and heavy layers of corporate interference will just turn would-be Sync app writers off,” says Autoblog’s Jonny Lieberman.
Sync’s open API allows developers to create apps for virtually any type of phone, but Ford selected iPhones as its research model because of its popularity. Sync developers met with a group of computer science students from the University of Michigan and asked them to build a couple of iPhone Apps so researchers could test their viability as a truly mobile app.
The first, FollowMe, lets users track each other’s locations so no one gets lost traveling caravan-style from place to place. SyncCast, the other app the students came up with, allows users to play any radio station in the U.S through the car stereo via their iPhone. It only took the students three months to develop the apps and, by all accounts, working with the Sync API was a piece of cake. Ironically, it was the iPhone’s Apple-specific toolkit that gave developers the most grief.
There’s no word when this technology will be ready for the open market but when it is, will you want it on it? Would the ability to interact hands free with your iPhone influence your car-buying decisions? Let us know in the comments.