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Ford SYNC AppLink

2011 Ford Fiesta  (Source: Ford)
Control apps with your voice

One of the key pieces of tech inside many Ford vehicles is the popular Sync infotainment system. Sync is a voice control system that interfaces with mobile devices using USB or Bluetooth. The Sync system allows the driver to use their voice to control many functions of the vehicle from the radio station to the settings on the AC system and beyond. 

Ford has announced a new update for the Sync system that will be offered first to owners of the 2011 Fiesta. The new update adds in a feature called AppLink. While the Fiesta is getting the goods first, it will soon be rolled out to other Ford vehicles.

"More and more drivers are using their devices and their apps while in the car," said Doug VanDagens, director of Ford Connected Services. "With AppLink, SYNC is a smarter solution for these drivers who choose to use these apps while driving – making it the only connectivity system available that can extend app functionality to the car using both voice and steering wheel controls." 

AppLink allows the driver to control applications on their Blackberry, Android, and iPhone smartphones using their voice. To start with, the list of compatible apps is very short. The list includes Pandora, which is available now for Android and Blackberry devices with iPhone support coming in early 2011. Stitcher will come early next year on all three devices, and OpenBeak on RIM devices is available right now.

The driver will need to download the update from Syncmyride to a flash drive and then install the update in their vehicle using the USB port in the car. Once installed, the driver will be able to press the voice button, say "Mobile applications", and then tell sync what app they want to use. With Pandora, the driver will be able to tell the app what channel to play and be able to rate songs with thumbs up and thumbs down while driving using their voice.

"Where before users would pick up their phone, taking their eyes off the road and hands off the steering wheel while driving to select a station and hit play, AppLink makes all of that functionality available through voice control, just like managing AM and FM radio or your MP3 player through SYNC," said Julius Marchwicki, SYNC product manager.

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Microsoft Incompatibility Irony
By Fancarolina on 12/22/2010 12:13:59 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone else find it ironic that they Ford Sync system built by Microsoft is not compatible with Microsoft's own line of phones. Be it Windows Phone 7 or the Legacy 6.x products. Way to support your own product line Microsoft.

RE: Microsoft Incompatibility Irony
By Mitch101 on 12/22/2010 12:16:55 PM , Rating: 3
My Zune 30 is a permenant fixture in my car. The Zune 30 has wireless sync so when I warm my car up in the morning its syncing with my PC before I pull out of the driveway.

If you design a media player right the first time like the Zune you dont have to make a new version every 6 months. ;)

RE: Microsoft Incompatibility Irony
By Fancarolina on 12/22/2010 12:22:01 PM , Rating: 1
Yes however the Zune is another sign of Microsoft's strange concept in design. Let's make a music and video player like the iPod, but wait we need a new client to sync it with Windows. So let's copy iTunes and make a Zune client. Never mind the fact that you could already sync many MP3 players with Windows Media Player natively. Why create and support another client that can do the same tasks that you have already developed.

RE: Microsoft Incompatibility Irony
By Mitch101 on 12/22/2010 12:45:47 PM , Rating: 2
Youll have to ask Microsoft about that. I talked to my buddy and his Windows Phone 7 has no problem with SYNC he says its possible they havent updated the sync software in thier car.

By omnicronx on 12/22/2010 3:24:24 PM , Rating: 2
Itunes/Zune sofware = end-to-end music/video service and a player..

Apple does exactly the same thing to an extent, you have your DVD Player/ Quicktime and iTunes all split out from one another.

Sure WMP syncs media devices and is a place to collect your songs, but its not meant exclusively for that, and thus its quite clear that the focus is not spent exclusively on this type of functionality.

Rarely are all in one solutions better than a single focused solution.

RE: Microsoft Incompatibility Irony
By vol7ron on 12/22/2010 12:20:26 PM , Rating: 2
Not at all, they are different product lines. The people in the different MS divisions don't know each other any more than someone in your large organization may know someone from accounting.

Plus, the main aim is to hit the masses. The majority of users (thus car drivers) don't own Win Phone 7. Android makes sense, I would think that they'll hurry to get iPhone working and then WP7.

By Fancarolina on 12/22/2010 12:27:17 PM , Rating: 2
I agree they are different divisions and that's why they don't work together very well. However I think it would show some foresight on Microsoft's end to get these people to work together a bit better. Then the chances of a debacle like the Kin phone would be less.
I find it strange that Microsoft like Apple hasn't taken on the task of making sure that our products work together better then those of our competition. Yes good business sense dictates that you have to support the most popular phones but making sure it works best with yours should be a simple task.

RE: Microsoft Incompatibility Irony
By The0ne on 12/22/2010 9:26:17 PM , Rating: 2
Just wanted to add to what you've said about MS divisions. I have a few friends working at Redmond and here's the scoop :)

There are many divisions and sub-divisions. For example there is an Office group, broken down to the Word group, broke even further down to parts that make up the App itself. A fine example would be what one of my buddy did, which was finding bugs in Word. That's it, nothing else that he cared to mention.

And yes, that is why even with the new visuals in Windows 7 and Office, the internal codes are still really just the same inefficient programming. Groups are just expected to do that is needed for the other group to get their work done. That usually means little change since there is practically no communication amongst themselves.

Problem is the company is too big. Other big companies are in the same boat as well, not just MS. I just happen to know a bit more about MS seeing as I have friends working there.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
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