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Toyota, Ford to partner on infotainment systems

Toyota and Ford are vying control of their vehicles\' dashboards.

Toyota and Ford have announced a new partnership that will explore the joint-development of future in-car infotainment systems. The latest agreement piggybacks on a partnership signed by Toyota and Ford in 2011 to create a single standard for vehicle telematics.

Per the terms of the deal, Toyota will evaluate a version of Ford's AppLink, known as SmartDeviceLink or SDL, for future Toyota and Lexus-branded products. According to Ford, the SDL partnership covers "command and control of smartphone apps through dashboard buttons, display screens and voice recognition technology.”

The advantage of the open-source SDL is that app makers would only need to design a single vehicle application for all automakers rather than a unique version for each company's in-house designed infotainment.

"Dashboard interface design and smartphone connectivity are key elements for product differentiation within the industry,” said Don Butler, executive director, Ford Connected Vehicle and Services. "At Ford, we view all aspects of time behind the wheel as core to the experience we provide customers. We're pleased other members of the industry feel the same way, and look forward to working together to drive even more support for the SDL developer community.”

The SDL partnership could be a sign that Toyota and Ford are hedging their bets against Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Although both automakers are listed as partners for Apple's CarPlay, Toyota's name is absent from the list of participating automakers for Google's Android Auto.

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