• Dec 29th 2009 at 10:01AM
  • 12
Here's another first for Ford after the revelation of its motion-capturing software: The Blue Oval will be the first to offer iTunes tagging through iPods on SYNC-equipped vehicles. Right behind the announcement of mobile Internet connectivity being added to SYNC, this will go along with the package of mobile apps the carmaker will reveal at CES next month.

The way it works: if you you have SYNC with HD radio, when you hear a song you like on an HD station you can press the 'Tag' button, and the system will note the track. When you plug your iPod in, it will suck up all of those tracks in a 'Tagged' playlist. You can have another listen through them and then buy the ones you want from iTunes.

There are other makes of vehicles that will let you record songs directly onto the car's hard drive for a fixed amount of time, but you can't really do anything with the recording after that. Ford's setup won't get you that immediate satisfaction, but it will save you a few steps. You can read the press release on the new – and free – feature (provided you've paid for SYNC and the HD-equipped head unit) after the jump.

[Source: Ford]



DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 29, 2009
– iTunes Tagging and crystal-clear radio sound through HD Radio technology are the latest features on Ford's growing list of factory-installed customer conveniences and technologies that will be newly available in 2010.

HD Radio receivers pull in digital radio signals and play them with dramatically improved sound. FM stations, for example, have near-CD quality, making it convenient for customers to select songs they want to download and purchase.

"iTunes Tagging and HD Radio technology are strong new additions to the growing collection of Ford convenience features and technology we're offering customers to make driving even more enjoyable," said Mark Fields, president of The Americas. "This is another example of Ford's commitment to bring the widest variety of factory-installed customer-focused technology, features and conveniences to millions of people."

• Ford is the first auto manufacturer to offer HD Radio™ technology with iTunes® Tagging capability; this new functionality will be available next year
• HD Radio technology captures free digital radio broadcasts, which eliminate static, fadeout and other problems associated with conventional analog radio signals; the result is FM audio that's comparable to near-CD quality and AM audio that sounds like today's FM broadcasts
• HD Radio digital technology provides a number of advanced services not available with an analog radio. Extra FM channels, called HD2/HD3 channels, are delivered, as well as useful on-screen Program Service Data such as artist name and song title

In 2010, Ford vehicles will offer familiar terrestrial radio, HD Radio technology, SIRIUS® Satellite Radio as well as Internet radio through Ford SYNC® from a Bluetooth®-streaming audio-capable smartphone.

"Ford continues to lead the market in bringing advanced capabilities to popular vehicles. We are very pleased that HD Radio technology is an integral part of Ford's broad offering of new features," said Jeff Jury, COO of iBiquity Digital Corporation, the developer of HD Radio technology.

Like the song? You can tag it
The world's first implementation of iTunes Tagging in a factory-installed HD Radio receiver will launch in 2010 on select Ford vehicles. Through the SYNC system, iTunes Tagging will provide Ford customers with the ability to capture a song they hear on the HD Radio receiver for later purchase. With a simple push of the "TAG" button on the radio display, the song information will be stored in the radio's memory.

Up to 100 tags on SYNC can be stored until the iPod is connected. When the iPod is then synced to iTunes, a playlist of "tagged" songs will appear. Customers then can preview and, if desired, purchase and download tagged songs from the iTunes Store. All HD Radio-enabled receivers in Ford vehicles also will provide Program Service Data – information that appears on the radio screen and includes song title, artist name and more.

Familiar controls with better quality
HD Radio technology enables more listening options and increased sound quality by using the same radio interface customers are used to as well as the same antennas and analog tuners with an added digital decoder inside the radio. Additionally, HD Radio-enabled receivers provide listeners with unique advanced services.

To operate, there's no difference from today's radio operations – customers just tune in your favorite station. If the station is broadcasting with HD Radio technology, the system automatically picks up the signal and will transition to digital audio once decoded.

Exclusive to HD Radio receivers are HD2/HD3 channels, which resemble mini-stations that could be spun off the "mother" station or completely new content for the local market. HD2/HD3 channels are found directly adjacent to the main (HD1) channel on the dial if available.

If additional HD2/HD3 channels are available, the radio will indicate how many on a multicast information bar. Users may tune up to the new available channels like they would tune to any other analog station. Users also may store HD2/HD3 presets, just as they do with today's radio.

HD Radio technology enables better audio and exclusive unique content choices One significant benefit of HD Radio technology is that the sound quality of the broadcast is dramatically better because of the digital transmission – FM sounds like a CD and AM sounds like today's FM broadcasts. Also, the sound itself is much clearer and more consistent, without
issues such as pops or hisses. Unlike analog broadcasts, digital broadcasts aren't susceptible to interference, fadeout and other issues.

Most stations use the additional HD2/HD3 channels to provide more unique coverage of sports, music or other niche programs often tailored for their individual markets – all for free. For example, in Dallas there is now a dedicated 24/7 Cowboys channel on 105.3-HD3. In Pittsburgh, there is a dedicated 24/7 Penguins channel on 105.9-HD2. Broadcasters may choose any genre they wish for their additional channels.

Nearly 2,000 radio stations in the U.S. currently broadcast in digital HD Radio sound, with nearly 1,000 stations also airing HD2/HD3 channels. Approximately 85 percent of the U.S. population is served by a station broadcasting with HD Radio technology. and http://www.ibiquity.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      LaserRed38: That wasn't HD Radio, it was RDS. As stations go online with their new HD transmitters, they're upgrading their old analog transmitters to support RDS.

      Here's what I want Ford: The ability to schedule recordings. Nobody would probably use this because most people don't listen to AM talk radio, but there are shows I want to listen to during the day but can't because I'm at work. If I could schedule a recording during the time I'm not in my car then I could listen to it later. Time shifting radio would be awesome!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Time shifting radio you say? Many radio programs are available as "podcasts". Download them at work to your portable media device then play them on the road on the drive home. I do this myself with the video podcasts of the evening news (for those days I ride the bus to work, not when I drive or bike)

        iTunes serves as a nice podcast clearing house of sorts but if you're one of those folks who doesn't use it a Google search should find other sources.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I understand where you are coming from and I have another possible solution for you. I don't know where you are from, but around here, some of the major AM stations podcast their shows which you can then download later and listen to whenever you want. They even do it commercial-free. Just download the show and pop it onto an mp3 player and there you go. Check into that option for the stations you listen to.

        It's not quite the same as a TiVo like system for radio, but it's about as close as you can get right now. I have also seen some mp3 players that can record radio for playback later, but good luck finding an mp3 player with an AM reciever. I've also seen some factory stereos (those with Hard Drives) that can allow recording as well.
      • 5 Years Ago
      HD Radio is a far better value than XM or Sirius in my opinion. This is a pretty neat feature. HD Radios make more sense as a standard feature in cars than satellite does.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "HD Radio is a far better value than XM or Sirius in my opinion. "

        except that HD radio doesn't solve one of my biggest gripes with terrestrial radio- the metric ton of advertising they run. At least Sirius/XM channels don't have 20 minutes of commercials per hour.

        The multicast channels are nice on HD radio, but at least in my area they're badly starved for bitrate and sound even worse than satellite.

        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree. Funny that the Focus has had a "HD Radio" tuner built in for years. My mom's 03 ZX5 with the "Audiophile" package automatically started displaying the HD version of local channels about a year or two ago when it debuted. Displays the song name and artist and station name, no extra hardware added. Just showed up on its own and it says HD + whatever station it is as it scrolls. I believe my dad's 08 Fusion does the same, but he has Sync.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Also sounds a lot better too in my experience. I bought my dad a radio with iPod connectivity that he could use in the garage, it also came with HD Radio. I was very impressed with the sound quality of the HD stations having never heard it before. I now want an HD radio deck for my vehicle.

        The Satelite radio in my mom's car, not so much. Sounds very tinny and low quality. Everything else on her stereo sounds fine except for the satelite radio.

        Not sure if I'm a unique case or not, but that's my opinion.
        • 5 Years Ago

        "I agree. Funny that the Focus has had a "HD Radio" tuner built in for years."

        No it hasn't. Unless you have an aftermarket radio, that is. Ford hasn't shipped any HD-Radio capable systems yet.

        "My mom's 03 ZX5 with the "Audiophile" package automatically started displaying the HD version of local channels about a year or two ago when it debuted. Displays the song name and artist and station name, no extra hardware added."

        you're seeing the RDS information from the regular analog FM broadcast. You aren't receiving the actual HDR digital signal.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Radio? Hey Grandpa, what's 'radio'?
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's that thingy in the Tundra's that keep falling to the floor.
      • 5 Years Ago
      HD radio doesn't work well where I am. You continually lose signal and as it phases between analog and digital it time compresses the music to make it match up. Between that and it just plain switching from low dynamic range to high fidelity, etc. it's really just more trouble than it's worth.

      Satellite works well around here, no burps, but I do agree with those who say the audio quality isn't good on satellite (XM at least). Plus of course paying sucks.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ford Australia need to bring SYNC over here...
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