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Ford's AppLink connects a smartphone to the car's infotainment (Photo: Ford)

Ford Motor will work with the open-source GENIVI alliance to speed up independent app development for its in-car infotainment systems.

The news follows an announcement earlier this year that independent app developers would get access to Ford's systems.

Ford said in a press release that it has learnt from the smartphone market that a "vibrant app ecosystem is essential to the success of a platform." It said opening its own AppLink platform would provide additional incentive for developers to create apps that can be used in its cars.

The company will contribute the software for AppLink, the Ford-developed in-car smartphone app interface, to GENIVI, which is an industry alliance working toward the adoption of an open source infotainment platform for all car brands. GENIVI has more than 160 members, many of them carmakers and automotive suppliers.

"Ford wants to see app developers succeed in their work with the auto industry,” said Doug VanDagens, global director of Ford's connected services. "Contributing the AppLink software to GENIVI demonstrates our commitment to be developer-focused which supports our drive for consumer-focused innovation."

Ford said it is the first American automaker to contribute proprietary source code from one of its products to an open-source project. The company will establish a new open-source GENIVI project called SmartPhoneLink with a Ford engineer in charge. The project will contain all of the code and documentation required to implement the AppLink software into the audio system head unit, Ford said. The code enables two-way communications with Google Android and Apple iOS devices.

The project will work with any operating-system, giving manufacturers the option to choose Linux, QNX or Microsoft Windows Embedded.

SmartPhoneLink is one of a growing number of public open-source projects run within GENIVI. "Ford’s commitment to contributing its AppLink software technology to a broader base of developers fits perfectly with GENIVI’s commitment to drive adoption of open source software in the automotive community," said Steve Crumb, executive director of the alliance.