As phones continue to release new information and apps that are compatible with Ford's SYNC technology, many people are (finally) beginning to look at Ford under a new light. The next two partners who have jumped on board are Blackberry and Android as they have announced that Sync Applink will be on all 2011 Ford models (with SYNC built in) including a personal favorite - the Ford Edge.The first model to have the Sync Applink will be the 2011 Ford Fiesta. If everything goes well with the launch and integration, the system will be installed on all 2011 models.
Applink will enable drivers to access and control select Android and BlackBerry apps via in-car voice commands and control buttons. AppLink also adds the capability for tight integration between mobile applications and the SYNC system. Smartphones will talk to SYNC via Bluetooth. SYNC users can already stream audio from their phones to the car via Bluetooth, but today they have to pick up the phone to view information or change what they're listening to. That will change with this latest upgrade.
There are three applications are already set to work with Sync AppLink: Pandora and Stitcher Internet radio and OpenBeak, a Twitter application.Â Pandora allows users to hit buttons on the steering wheel to navigate among their custom Pandora radio stations, and to verbally tell the software to download a song they like after they get to their destination. Stitcher, which delivers news and other types of radio programming from various sources, can identify those sources for the listener verbally. OpenBeak allows a driver to verbally request a Twitter timeline and have Sync read out the latest tweets in order (video here). It doesn't let drivers post tweets verbally yet, because speech-to-text conversion isn't yet accurate enough. The new Android system update has this as a feature, so I would think an initial firmware update after purchase will add speech-to-text conversion feature immediately.
One of the more attractive features that Applink brings to the table is that "Brought-in" apps residing on a consumer's smartphone also eliminate the need for yet another piece of hardware to be installed in the car which only serves to add cost and complexity. Basically, get an automobile with the proper technology built in and use your smartphone as the hub of all your activity - in the car and at home or work. Ford had a group of people in Los Angeles doing tests on the new system approximately three weeks ago.
I had the unique pleasure of spending about 10 minutes in one of the new models and the new system is quite impressive. The Ford representative took me through many of the commands regarding traffic, iPod synchronization and the intergration with a smart phone. The system is very fast, thorough, responsive and just flat out cool. Telling my phone to stream music while checking traffic and sending a text message in about 10 seconds As Ford continues to announce features and developer information, my excitement builds and the Ford Edge is at the top of the list of new cars for me.
The combination of Ford stepping up and a new Android phone soon to be on the market has a new car in my near future. Also, any mobile developers out there should pay close attention to the Ford SYNC ecosystem and develop partnerships. Mobile apps are the future and the integration between smartphone and automobile is very cutting edge.
What are your thoughts on controlling your Ford with Blackberry or Android apps? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section.