2011 Ford Fiesta Gets Sync Voice Control for Smartphone Apps

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2009 Los Angeles Auto Show

2009 Los Angeles Auto Show

Well, you can't say Ford (NYSE:F) isn't pulling out all the stops to ensure the launch of its subcompact 2011 Ford Fiesta will be a smashing success.

The last piece of news to trickle out of the Ford machine is that the 2011 Fiesta four-door sedan and five-door hatchback will be the first Fords to let drivers use the Sync voice interface to control their smartphone apps.

2009 Los Angeles Auto Show

2009 Los Angeles Auto Show

Sync AppLink download

Fiesta drivers will be able to access apps on their Android and Blackberry smartphones using a downloadable program called Sync AppLink.

The first Sync-enabled apps are Pandora internet radio,  Stitcher "smart radio" and Orangatame's OpenBeak app for Twitter, with many more promised in coming months.

Available later this year, the program will be available for all Sync-equipped vehicles during 2011, and it will be expanded to other smartphones. An obvious next device, as Ford acknowledges in its release, is the popular Apple iPhone.

Safety issue

Apps are projected to be a $4 billion industry just two years hence, and mobile devices are expected to be the main form of Internet access by 2015. That makes the ability to use smartphones safely in cars becomes a crucial safety issue.

Giving drivers the ability to control their apps with voice commands and steering-wheel buttons puts Ford in a proactive position to counter widespread publicity over the dangers of distracted driving.

Or, in the words of Ford's Doug VanDagens, the company is "helping drivers keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road."

Sync developer community

Indicating Sync's importance as a distinctive feature on Ford products, the company is taking it further yet by launching a community for app developers to enable them to make their programs work properly with Sync.

The "Mobile Application Developer Network" lets them partner with Ford to ensure compatibility across future releases of Sync. While the Sync software development kit (SDK) is still in beta, developers can sign up to submit ideas and get news updates.

The four videos below, narrated by Ford's Julius Marchwicki, show AppLink in action and demonstrate how each of the three first Sync-enabled apps actually works.

[Ford]

 
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