Ford will let outsiders develop apps for its SYNC system (Photo: Ford)

LAS VEGAS ”“ Mobile app developers will gain easier access to Ford's in-car telematics system, SYNC.

The US carmaker announced at the CES here that it is launchingan open mobile app developer program that provides a software development kit and technical support to programmers. Information on the program can be found at

The initiative is the first to provide software developers with a direct interface with the vehicle, Ford said.

Automakers have been hesitant to open their infotainment systems to outside developers, mostly because of concerns for security and quality of apps that weren't specifically developed for an automotive environment. At the same time, they realize that building a community of developers can significantly speed up the range of attractive apps they can offer drivers and their passengers.

"The Ford Developer Program marks a dramatic shift in how we will innovate new features and add value to our vehicles throughout the ownership period,” said Hau Thai-Tang, vice president of engineering in Ford's global product development division. "Opening the car to developers gives consumers a direct voice and hand in the creation of apps that can help our products remain relevant, up to date and valuable to our customers.”