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Tradie app wins Ford’s first Australian hackathon

More byte: Small business software company MYOB created an app that allows tradies to run their business using voice alone in future Ford models.

Accounting software maker MYOB takes top spot in future-Ford competition

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Ford logo26 Nov 2013

A LOCALLY developed accounting program that lets tradies run their business from behind the steering wheel has won Ford Australia’s first-ever car-app hackathon.

The 24-hour hackathon, held over the weekend in a converted warehouse in inner Melbourne, attracted 35 software developers all vying to create the best in-car app for a version of Ford’s Sync in-car multimedia system due in Australia next year.

Business accounting software developer MYOB took out the title for the best app, after creating an interface that allows small-business owners such as tradies to manage their accounting – including invoicing – via voice controls from behind the steering wheel.

Other ideas included a Russian dash-cam style app that allows users to save the last 30 seconds of recorded vision and upload them directly to Youtube, and another one that uses a smartphone’s GPS data and internet connection to find out a city’s average fuel price, and then show the price of fuel at the nearest service station.

Ford Australia brand communications associate Martin Gunsberg said the hackathon, which uses Ford’s AppLink system that connects smartphones with Sync, was the first one the brand had ever held in Australia.

“We did this ahead of the launch of the AppLink platform that is coming into vehicles in 2014 to get the local development community across the platform,” Mr Gunsberg said.

“That way we can get them to start developing apps that work with AppLink, or modify existing apps to let them work with AppLink.

“We were just blown away by the ideas out there.”

Ford’s AppLink is an open-source developer program that mimics the car-maker’s in-vehicle electronics, allowing app developers to work with a virtual car.

It is free and available to anyone who wants to download it and develop their own apps – the ideas will still need to gain approval from Ford before uploading to the Apple Store or Google Play – for future vehicles that are earmarked to land here from next year.

Mr Gunsberg said one of the benefits of the Applink system was that it exposed Australian developers to a world market for their products.

“Sync and AppLink is Ford’s global platform, and Ford already has one million vehicles worldwide with the Sync app enabled, so it is giving Australian developers access to a market much larger than just the Australian market,” he said.

Judges included Ford Australia chief executive Bob Graziano, Ford Australia electronics engineer Christoph Scholl, and the co-founder of venture capital provider Adventure Capital, Stuart Richardson.

Mr Gunsberg said based on the success of last weekend’s event, Ford Australia planned to hold more hackfests in the future.

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