Sync AppLinks to Create Vehicle, Smartphone Harmony

Dennis Faas's picture

The Ford Motor Co. is hoping to make it an easy choice for North American social networking fans when deciding on a new vehicle. Thanks to a feature called "Sync AppLinks", those who buy or lease the forthcoming 2011 Ford Fiesta will be able to use applications on their smartphones simply by verbalizing commands and using buttons on their steering wheel.

Ford is pitching Sync AppLinks as a safety feature that makes it easier for car owners to use mobile phones while operating their motor vehicle. In large pockets throughout North America, non-hands-free mobile phones are illegal when in use while driving.

Sync Available Now; AppLinks Different

In actuality, Sync is available as a feature for most Ford vehicles (free for the first three years and $60 per year thereafter), providing voice control of audio equipment, turn-by-turn directions, etc.

Still, Sync AppLinks is a completely different story. Applinks makes for tight integration between mobile applications and the Sync system, meaning that smartphones will "talk" to Sync via Bluetooth. Sync users can already stream audio from their phones to the car via Bluetooth, but they have to pick up their phone to view information or change what they're listening to.

AppLinks looks be standard equipment on most high-end Ford Fiesta models and a $395 option on others. The vehicle will go on sale in the summer and buyers who get the feature with their new car will be able to load AppLinks software on it via a USB port directly in the car. (Source:

Twitter, Pandora Highlight Early Apps

There are already three applications on board with the AppLinks project: Pandora and Stitcher Internet radio and OpenBeak, a Twitter application.

Pandora will allow users to navigate through custom radio stations via steering wheel buttons. Drivers can also tell the software to download a preferred song after arriving at their destination.

Stitcher, which delivers news and other types of radio programming from various sources, can identify those songs.

OpenBeak allows a driver to verbally request a Twitter timeline and have Sync read out the latest tweets in order. However, drivers cannot post tweets verbally, as speech-to-text conversion is still considered to be a work in progress. (Source:

The key thing to remember here is that Ford is trying to attract the ever elusive "young buyer". So, don't expect the AppLinks feature to be offered via BlackBerry and Android alone. There are also plans to have Sync AppLinks work with the iPhone (and even other Ford vehicles) in the very near future.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet