Previously offered only by invitation to a handful of partners, Ford is opening up its Developer Program for Sync AppLink to the general public. In the world of in-car entertainment and smartphone integration, that's a pretty big deal — it means that essentially anyone will be able to integrate their iOS and Android apps with Sync-enabled Ford cars, offering features like voice commands, control of vehicle displays, and exchange of navigation data. At present, every Ford vehicle sold is available with Sync, the Microsoft-powered media platform that Ford has been using for the past several years, so this gives devs a fairly big platform to target.

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There's a catch, though: to deploy apps with AppLink integration, Ford will still require developers to submit titles for testing before signing off on a license that will permit distribution in Google Play and the iOS App Store — in other words, Ford will still have the final word on what the AppLink ecosystem looks like.

In connection with the announcement, Ford has announced a slew of updated phone apps that offer Sync support, including The Wall Street Journal, Amazon Cloud Player, Rhapsody, and Glympse. That brings the AppLink catalog to "more than" three dozen compatible apps, and odds are good that'll grow once the SDK starts circulating.