Ford unveils in car mobile app functionality

Chris Caceres · January 7, 2010 · Short URL:

Pandora, Twitter, Stitcher and plenty of other stuff in your dashboard...but keep your eyes on road

OK.  I'm a little bit confused right now.  I just got hit with a ticket for talking on my cellphone without a headset, but in short time, I'll be able to access all my favorite smartphone apps safely?  Well, granted I purchase a new Ford of course.

This morning at CES in Vegas, several representatives from Ford showcased some new in-vehicle features which should really appeal to all us tech geeks out there.  To sum it up, Ford overwhelmed the audience with everything from improved voice control, to touch screen interfaces, to video game-like controls on the steering wheels. 

But what stood out the most, at least to myself and I'm sure the Vator community, was the unveiling of in car mobile app functionality.  Basically, Ford made the decision to, instead of building a whole new ecosystem for developers to make in car applications, why not just leverage the community out there that's already building apps for all our smartphones.  It showed three pretty interesting examples: Pandora, the Twitter app Open Beak and Stitcher, all controlled by its SYNC voice control.

Ford's API, which isn't exactly open for anybody to use just yet, allows for communication with the applications on your smartphone.  So in my case, I connect my iPhone to my vehicle with my tape cassette adapter...from there I sneakily try to control my phone like I would regularly, touching the screen and searching for a station to listen to.  Dangerous and illegal.  

Ford has unveiled a solution which lets you control the application with your voice.  So on stage, the tester connected his phone via bluetooth or USB and call the application to load up by simply saying, "Pandora."  Once the application loaded up they could say something like, "Play George Michael radio station," and just like that, music starts playing.  Pretty neat.

The same went for a couple other apps the company demoed like Stitcher's which plays news radio stations from across the Web.  Stations could be called through voice commands.  

And for all you Twitter fanatics who just need to keep connected to the constant stream of noise, connectivity with Ford showcased a computerized voice which would read off the tweet to you while you were driving and how long ago it was tweeted. 

Doug Van Dagens, Director of Connected Services for Ford who showcased all these new features said more applications would be compatible with Ford's SYNC system in the near future, but did not name any specifics.  An issue probably slowing down an explosion of these compatible apps has to do with safety issues as Dagens explained Ford needed to work with app developers to make sure the in-car counterpart was safe enough for the road.

As Ford's Derrick Kuzak, VP of Global Product Development put it, "Just talking on a cellphone does not increase crashes."  

The continued emphasis on voice control in Ford vehicles will be something the car manufacturer will continue to focus on for several years.

I'll stick to my '96 Acura Integra for now. 


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