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.