Ford Mobilizes Smartphone Apps

Posted by Sam Churchill on

The Ford Motor Company has updated their SynchMyRide system to include Android and Blackberry apps.

Ford’s Sync already lets drivers control their phones with voice-commands, but the new upgrade — dubbed AppLink — will allow Ford owners to integrate a variety of smartphone applications, such as traffic congestion maps or Pandora radio.

The new “Sync Applink” will allow drivers to access and control Android and BlackBerry smartphone apps with voice commands and vehicle controls. Support for iPhone will be rolled out in coming months.

Ford is building an ecosystem of SYNC apps:

  • Built-in apps, including Vehicle Health Report and 911 Assist™, are downloaded and installed directly on the in-car SYNC operating system
  • SYNC apps like Traffic, Directions & Information rely on beamed-in, or “cloud-based,” information. Drivers access the Ford Service Delivery Network, a network of data centers providing turn-by-turn directions, business searches, and on-demand news, sports and weather information, through a simple voice-connection using their cell phone.
  • SYNC AppLink represents the third category of the ecosystem, brought-in apps, leveraging apps installed on a user’s smartphone, such as Pandora, Stitcher and OpenBeak

Bluetooth-enabled phones work with SYNC. Your phone makes the call hands-free. You’ll hear the person you are calling through your stereo speakers, and speak as if that person were sitting right next to you.

Leveraging SYNC’s safer voice commands and steering wheel controls, drivers are able to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. “Brought-in” apps reside on a your smartphone. That also eliminates the need for yet another piece of hardware to be installed in the car which only adds cost and complexity.

AppLink apps will be downloaded from the phone’s marketplace as usual. Interested developers can download the SDK and join Ford’s deveoper network.

Ford says SYNC is the only connectivity system available that can extend that functionality into the car. AppLink will allow drivers to control some of the most popular apps through SYNC’s voice commands and steering wheel buttons.

Fast Company has a profile on CEO Alan Mulally:

“C’mere!” he says, and puts his arm around my shoulder. “You’ve got to see this.”

Mulally drags me into his giant inner office and points out the 20-foot-long window. “Look!”

There is a broad, sweeping view of the Rouge River; a hundred factory buildings; smokestacks.

“That’s GM,” he says, “right there. Bankrupt!”

He turns to his left, still with his arm around my shoulder, spinning me with him. I’m off balance.

“See that over there? Chrysler. All gone. Unbelievable, right?”

Autoblog has a good overview of Ford’s App Ecosystem. AppLink will first appear on 2011 Fiestas equipped with Synch, but will eventually be installed on other Sync-equipped Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles. Those who already own a vehicle with Sync aren’t left in the cold, either — AppLink will be offered as a downloadable upgrade.

CNET News reporter Daniel Terdiman demonstrates how Audi Q7 SUV integrates with Bluetooth mobile phones like the iPhone. He tested the Q7 as part of Road Trip 2009.

Controlling multi-media in cars (phones, stereo, heating/AC, navigation, etc), requires an intuitive user interface, often with voice recognition.

Those include Audi’s Multi Media Interface, Ford’s Sync, the Mercedes Command system, and BMW’s iDrive. C/Net likes the Mercedes Command APS system the best. The speech technology engine used in by Mercedes is provided by Nuance Communications.

Telematics Update has the latest bling:

New traffic services are expected from the newly formed North American Traffic Working Group under the sponsorship of the ITS-America, with the mission to make traffic advisories better.

Related DailyWireless stories on transit connectivity include; Hands-free Vehicular Calling, Tracking Tools, Ford Sync Dials 911, In-Vehicle Infotainment: Death Race, CradlePoint: Mobile WiFi/WiMAX Hot Spots, Mercedes myCOMAND, BMW iDrive Gets Makeover, Handheld Intelligent Transportation, Chrysler Offers Internet Access , Chrysler Rolls Out U-connect , Ford Sync, Google Transit Maps + WiFi, Chrysler: Wi-Fi Car This Year, The Connected Bus, Hotspot for Bedouins, Chrysler Getting WiMAXed, Verizon Traffic Mapping , PePWave Mobility: Connectivity for Vehicles, Civic Booster and Microsoft Vrs OnStar.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 at 1:03 pm .

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