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Ford's AppLink to support iPhone voice control of apps

David Quilty
My, how far we have come since Ford offered a "standard" iPod jack in its 2008 Ford Escape. Starting this month (and next depending on the model), SYNC-equipped Ford Fiesta owners with iPhone, Android or BlackBerry smartphones will be able to use free software from Ford called AppLink, which gives SYNC users voice control over several apps on their phones. Available for download over at owner site, the first apps compatible with AppLink are Pandora (internet radio), Stitcher (news radio) and OpenBeak (for listening to Twitter posts).

While AppLink was initially only supposed to be for Android and BlackBerry phones, Ford decided to add the iPhone to its list of supported devices. By using Bluetooth streaming with Android and BlackBerry devices and a USB port for the iPhone, users just press the VOICE button on their steering wheel to enable voice command control of their apps. Currently only for SYNC-equipped Ford Fiestas, Ford says that additional vehicles and controllable apps are coming in 2011.

Just 12 months ago Ford started offering iTunes tagging in their cars with HD Radios, giving users the ability to tag songs for later purchase in iTunes. While that's a neat idea and something I am sure we will see more of in the future, it's really encouraging to see more work being done on the voice control front in the automobile world. With more and more people taking advantage of their smartphones while driving, and with Apple looking to hire more voice recognition specialists, anything that can make the roads a little safer to drive on is all right by me.

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