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Ford is making it easier to access tablet devices in its cars, enabling users of iPad, Kindle, Nook and other tablets to control their devices with their voices instead of their hands.

The move is bound to set safety advocates atwitter, who argue there are already too many distractions behind the wheel. Just last month the issue again took front stage after the death of 18-year-old Taylor Sauer, who crashed her car into a tanker truck while texting. Ford, however, said the upgrade of its MyFord Touch system is out of concern for driver safety.

"Drivers are bringing these devices into the car already," said Alan Hall, a spokesman for Ford. "We're allowing them to access the content in a safer way."

Ford began shipping upgrades to its voice-activated MyFord Touch entertainment system on Monday, with the tablet compatibility built in. The automaker has taken a big hit to its quality reputation because of MyFord Touch, which consumers have complained is slow, unreliable and hard to use.

The upgrade to MyFord Touch and its underlying SYNC technology allows more devices to work with voice activation or through controls on the steering wheel, although most still won't charge. Devices including the iPad, Kindle Fire, HP Touchpad, Nook Color and Sony Tablet S need more electricity than Ford's outlets provide.

Ford hopes the iPad 3, set to be revealed today, will be compatible with the upgrade, Ostrowski said. He also said that Ford engineers will have to order iPad 3s like everyone else to find out.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      If you make it easier and more legal to distract yoyrself with gizmos while driving, it is only going to encourage people to do it more often. While it removes the aspect of looking away from the road, the big issue is still the distraction of using a tablet (or phone, laptop, sat nav) while you should be driving. But then again, it also boils down to driver responsibility, skill, and ability to prioritize and multitask. If you are alert, you can use your conscious mind to do something else behind the wheel, and use your instincts and even peripheral vision to drive, snapping to full attention when needed. I am reminded of last week's Top Gear episode where May and Clarkson drove around the track, one physically constrained by a sleeping bag, the other sewing a button, in an effort to demonstrate opposition to the UK government's crackdown on distracted driving. Sure, to a completely lazy or inexperienced driver, the distractions are enough for them to almost forget they are in a motor vehicle surrounded by other rapid moving hunks of metal, but to others, it's like walking. You dont need to constantly look at your feet and command them to step, but you are also making sure you dont trip, walk into something solid, or step on dog doo doo. In a nutshell, it isnt about limiting the distractions, but the driver's ability to manage them within reason. Even somethig like driving and eating. It might be a good idea to fine people for trying to eat a full, messy meal that requires both hands, but what about the guy who is barely distracted by the energy bar it takes him 5 seconds to eat? But when it comes to regulations, you cant be choosy, but cater to the lowest common denominator.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Dear Ford, Why are you so hell-bent on pushing this crap? These devices make using mobile devices in cars safe just like filters make smoking cigarettes healthy. Regards, A guy who doesn't mind waiting a few minutes to make a call, read a text, & go online.