• Apr 20th 2010 at 12:01AM
  • 21
Ford SYNC with AppLink – Click above for high-res image gallery

On our way to Stanford last week, we came across a murdered-out Toyota Prius with an "I♥OPEC" vanity plate. Prime Twitter fodder if we've ever seen it. Unfortunately, even with our smartphone streaming navigation directions and a podcast through the Ford Fusion's SYNC system, we couldn't safely tweet our find. Well, Ford's about to rectify that issue with the introduction of AppLink, a downloadable upgrade to the SYNC infotainment system that allows drivers to control their smartphone apps through voice commands.

AppLink will be exclusive to the 2011 Ford Fiesta when it hits dealers later this year and, at launch, it will only work with Blackberry and Android-powered devices running SYNC software. When it does arrive, the first three supported apps are Stitcher, Pandora (bye-bye XM/Sirius) and Orangatame's OpenBeak Twitter program. More apps are sure to be available in the following months and Ford has setup a developer channel on SYNCMyRide to get programmers going.

For those of you currently rolling in a SYNC-equipped Ford or Lincoln, AppLink will be available as a download sometime next year, and for all you Apple fanboys, fear not, iPhone integration is on the way. Make the jump for all the details and a brace of videos showing off the technology.

[Source: Ford]

Show full PR text
  • Ford will first offer SYNC® AppLink, a downloadable software program, on the 2011 Fiesta, allowing owners to access and control AndroidTM and BlackBerry® smartphone apps with voice commands and vehicle controls
  • Pandora internet radio, Stitcher "smart radio" and Orangatame's OpenBeak are the first SYNC-enabled mobile applications
  • Ford to create SYNC developer community with launch of new "Mobile Application Developer Network" ( HYPERLINK "http://www.syncmyride.com/developer" www.syncmyride.com/developer), giving developers a pathway to partner with Ford on SYNC-enabled applications
  • Ford's platform approach with SYNC is poised to harness smartphone app development and mobile web access; apps expected to be a $4 billion industry by 2012; analysts predict the mobile device to become the No. 1 source for Internet access by 2015

SAN FRANCISCO, April 20, 2010 – Customers have spoken -- asking for safe, convenient access to their smartphone apps while in the vehicle – and Ford is responding by announcing the new SYNC AppLink software that will allow hands-free voice control of popular smartphone apps.

SYNC AppLink, a downloadable software upgrade, will be released for 2011 Ford Fiesta owners with the award-winning SYNC communications and infotainment system later this year, allowing drivers hands-free control of apps on their Android or BlackBerry smartphones via voice commands and vehicle controls. Ford will introduce AppLink on all SYNC-equipped vehicles next year, as well as provide interoperability with iPhone and other smartphones.
"The growth in smartphone mobile apps has been explosive, and Ford has worked hard to respond at the speed of the consumer electronics market," said Doug VanDagens, director of Ford's Connected Services Organization. "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, helping drivers keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road."

The Android MarketTM and BlackBerry App World™ are among the leading growth markets for mobile apps. The new SYNC AppLink will seamlessly integrate apps using the vehicle's voice and user interface controls, including buttons on the steering wheel, increasing eyes-on-the-road and hands-on-the-wheel time.

The first SYNC-enabled apps available later this year include Pandora internet radio, Stitcher "smart radio" and Orangatame's OpenBeak app for Twitter, with additional apps on the way. Updated versions of each app, incorporating the SYNC application programming interface (API), will be available through Android Market and BlackBerry App World for customers to download.

Built-in, Beamed-in and Brought-in: The SYNC App Ecosystem
  • From its introduction, Ford has been building an ecosystem of available SYNC apps, continuously improving the consumer experience.
  • 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

Studies show mobile app development – a niche market just three years ago – is expected to blossom into a $4 billion industry by 2012. Sites serving specific mobile operating systems, such as Android and BlackBerry OS, have experienced massive growth, with analysts predicting the mobile device will become the No. 1 source for Internet access by 2015, surpassing the home computer.

Ford and SYNC will answer the consumer demand by offering the only platform available for drivers to safely control their mobile devices and applications in the car. 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 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.

Customers will be able to download SYNC-enabled mobile apps through the same app store interfaces currently used. As SYNC-enabled versions of existing apps are released into the app stores, users will be prompted to download the latest version upon connection. Also, as developers grasp the notion that the vehicle interior has opened to them, a new dimension of apps designed from the outset to maximize the unique in-car environment will follow.

Opening the door to developers
To facilitate future SYNC-enabled app development, Ford has also activated a new developer network on its SYNCmyride Web site ( HYPERLINK "http://www.syncmyride.com/developer" www.syncmyride.com/developer). Interested developers can find a link to submit innovative ideas, and sign up for the latest information and news about the SYNC application programming interface (API) and software development kit (SDK). The package will allow developers to modify existing applications and create all-new apps that can successfully interface with SYNC.

Working with trusted partners, Ford is completing beta-testing on the SDK. Once beta-testing is complete, a broader release of the development tools is planned for later this year. Initial reports have been positive, with one of Ford's development partners creating a SYNC-enabled version of its app just three days after receiving the development tools.

"We're very pleased by the rapid development time and positive feedback we've seen from our first partners," said VanDagens. "We want to encourage all developers to visit our site and submit ideas, helping us tap into the global pool of innovation and creativity."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      While I don't think all this is necessary and sacrifices some degree of safety for "tweeteration", I applaud Ford for its innovation. At least, they are listening to their customers and it shows in their products which are best in class. The only automaker (non-luxury) that is close is Hyundai/KIA, the rest of them are just relying on past glory...newsflash - the world moved on!
      • 5 Years Ago
      So is this the kind of crap people are playing with instead of driving or...?
        • 5 Years Ago

        They may not have to take their eyes off the road, but they're still taking their focus off the road.
        • 5 Years Ago
        People are already doing this crap, the point is now they don't have to take their eyes of the road.
      • 5 Years Ago
      WHY WHY WHY didn't they put this in Volvo when they had the chance!!!!

      I want the name and address of the pinhead responsible for nixing that.
      • 5 Years Ago
      As far as what apps you would want to use, Pandora is probably the coolest one for normal people. Just give it the name of a song or artist and Pandora streams you music of the same type. You can vote yes or no on which songs you like and gradually build a personal music station based on your preferences. Adding other artists or songs you like will broaden the types of music included in your list. Doing all this by voice command would be easy.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ford is making it more and more appealing for me to just live in my SUV. I mean...Microsoft Sync, built in refrigerators, DVD players, fold flat seating.....all I'd need is a toilet and satellite tv and I'd be ready to sell my house and buy a Ford.
        • 5 Years Ago
        And the interest would be tax deductible for a residence! LOL....except for the zero APR!

        OTOH, what happened to just driving a vehicle w/o all the associated social butterfly BS!
        • 5 Years Ago
        satellite dish, no problem. They have those for RV's. As far as a toilet, they even have that covered now. Check this out.

        But with the toilet, I'd probably have a handful of those cheap .99 cent air fresheners stashed in a cubby hole when needed. Better your interior smell of pine and poo than just poo. Cherry berry isn't a bad scent too.
      • 5 Years Ago
      How long until it supports Trapster?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Their hands may be on the wheel, but if they are thinking about Twitter, their minds are not on the road. This kind of technology is a bad idea. Has anyone ever tweeted anything worth dying over?
      • 5 Years Ago
      are there apps that I really want to be using? I can just imagine the girl in the lane next to me playing bejeweled blitz somehow...... can we just drive our cars and get where we're going? I don't get in my car for the progs.... that's all I'm sayin. Educate me if there is something I'm doing wrong.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Study after study has shown that it's not the using your hands for something else but rather the using your brain for something else other than driving. If you're concentrating on composing or understanding a Tweet, which usually already require more thought to process because of so many abbreviations, you're simply not giving enough concentration to traffic. Before it's all over with, I see a school bus being crashed into and that causing a fire. After that, we'll have cars with infotainment interlocks.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You're doing it wrong if you think these features are for everyone. Some people couldn't care less, but then, the added functionality really comes without any added cost. If you just want to stream music from your iPod and occasionally use the nav features Sync has you covered. But many people use social apps like you and I breathe, and until now, alot of them would sacrifice safety for the need to "update". Now they can do so safely with simple voice commands. It's not like they will have to punch a bunch of buttons and stare at a screen to get these things to work. However, I'm sure there is a learning curve on what voice commands to use and some initial setup. I hope dealerships are stressing the need for this to be done in a parked car before trying to use the system on the road.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I guess the reality is that people can't resist making calls
        and checking their social networks...
        so making it as easy as possible will help make
        us safer....
        but I would prefer the driver in the lane
        next to me just drive and not slow down or drift around
        in their lane cause they're all distracted. Gahhh!

        I see women putting on make-up and people
        reading the morning paper while driving..... Sync can't help
        people with that....

        I think if peoples ride to work was more fun they'd enjoy
        the drive and not be so bored they're pushed to check their
        twitter feed.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What vehicle is used in the Pandora sample? It looks like a Fusion but Fusion does not have that color interior. It looks like the leather from a King Ranch truck.

      But I must tell you, I can't wait for the upgrade. I just got a 2010 Fusion Sport and I also own a G1 Android phone. Looks like a win win for me. I love the Sirius radio, but it is not worth the $13 a month.

      You got to admit, Ford got their stuff together with SYNC.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually, that is the Fusion in the pandora demonstration. Anyway, I can understand integrating Pandora and Stitcher into SYNC but do you really need to know Twitter feeds that badly while driving? I don't care if it's hands free or voice activated, it just seems like they're starting to go overboard when they integrate stuff like that into a car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why no iPhone support? Is Ford really wanting to turn away 25% of the smartphone market in favor of Google's 5%?
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Fiesta really deserves to sell on the fact that it drives like a Fit/Jazz and looks ten times better, but yes, your average American is more likely to be impressed by the gee-whiz tech frippery.

      Either way, this car is going to blow up in the US market (figuratively).
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