Motor City giant Ford is shaking off its reputation for petrol-hungry, antiquated clunkers and aggressively tackling growing consumer demand for futuristic convenience through their mobile phones. Ford joined a roster of OEMs announcing splashy new mobile phone partnerships, app compatibilities, and upgraded internet connectively at the Consumer Electronics Show. But moving forward sometimes means looking back to previous generation vehicles and bringing them up to date. That’s why Ford is retroactively wiring 3.4 million previously sold vehicles that already have their SYNC communications system with AppLink, an iOS, Android, and Blackberry optimised mobile linkage.
SYNC, a factory-installed, in-dash communications and international system that allows drivers to change music, make phone calls, and perform other functions simply with their voice, has come factory-installed in select Ford Models since 2007. Mobile connectively came much later. AppLink, which channels SYNC through the driver’s mobile phone and augments its services with a range of independent apps, is only compatible with select SYNC-enabled models. AppLink is currently aboard 1.5 million cars in North America. Ford’s retroactive ‘syncing’ will more than triple that number, and planned roll-outs of SYNC and AppLink to Europe and Asia later this year will make Ford a manufacturer to reckon with in the connected car race.
“More than ever, consumers are getting organized, entertained and informed through their Internet-connected smartphones and tablets,” said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president for global marketing, sales and service. “Drivers expect to be able to take advantage of that capability in the car, and Ford SYNC AppLink is the industry-leading platform for accessing apps while keeping eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.”
To please the millions of new AppLink-ed drivers, Ford also announced four new apps for SYNC. Domino’s Easy Order will allow drivers to order pizza on the go, perfectly ‘syncing’ the delivery of their piping hot pepperoni and pineapple and their arrival home. Pulse, from leading security provider ADT, will allow drivers to monitor the security of their home or business from the road, and Gracenote will allow users to browse through their music library with vocal commands (“No, Gracenote, Metallica not Menudo!”). Meanwhile, Parkopedia allows drivers to find and pay for parking spaces without burning petrol spinning through crowded city centres or even taking their hands off the wheel.
To add to this growing slate of apps, Ford will be hosting a developer conference in June to solicit new innovations.