Home Ford Sync Will Soon Let You Control Your Mobile Apps by Voice

Ford Sync Will Soon Let You Control Your Mobile Apps by Voice

Thanks to voice-controlled systems like Ford’s Sync, drivers don’t have to take their eyes off the road if they want to place a call or switch to the next track on their playlists. Today, Ford announced the next step in the company’s roadmap to connect mobile phones and cars. With Sync AppLink, Ford is introducing a new platform that allows developers to offer voice controls for their mobile apps on Sync-enabled cars. At first, AppLink will only work with Android and BlackBerry devices, but the company plans to offer support for Apple’s iPhone OS and other smartphone platforms next year.

The first Sync-enabled applications, which will be available later this year, are Pandora, Stitcher, and Orangatame’s OpenBreak Twitter app. Even though Sync is based on the Microsoft Auto platform, Ford did not announce that it plans to support the upcoming Windows Phone operating system.

Drivers will be able to control AppLink-enabled mobile apps through voice commands that will be routed through the Sync system, as well as from buttons on the steering wheel. The first car to feature this new service will be the 2011 Ford Fiesta. Ford plans to offer AppLink on all Sync-equipped cars next year. Existing Sync users will be able to update their car’s software at a later point as well.

Same Apps – Just Controlled by SYNC

From the user’s perspective, installing a Sync-enabled app is no different from installing a regular app on their mobile phones. The only difference is that the car will notice when you start a Sync-enabled app and allow you to control the app’s function with your voice. This allows Ford to plug right into the existing developer ecosystems and distribution channels for all of these platforms and developers only have to make relatively minor updates to make their apps compatible with Sync.

It’s important to stress that these applications are running on the user’s phone and not on the car’s built-in Sync hardware. Sync only passes the voice commands on to the application but doesn’t interact with the app beyond this. In Ford’s parlance, these are “brought-in” apps, as opposed to “built-in” apps (like Ford’s Vehicle Health Report and 911 Assist) or “beamed-in” cloud-based apps that send traffic information and turn-by-turn directions to the car.

Sync AppLink for Developers

Ford is currently working with a small group of trusted partners and plans to open up the Sync API and software development kit to a broader selection of developers later this year. Ford also announced the launch of a Sync developer community that will give developers a pathway to partner with Ford on Sync-enabled applications.

Image credit: Flickr user Jim Trottier

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