Ford SYNC AppLink hands-on in a little green Fiesta

It seems like Ford just can't let another year go by without introducing some sort of tweak to SYNC, and this year is no different. The company is showing off part of the SYNC extensions it described last year, AppLink. As the name implies it enables apps running on a smartphone to connect (or, you know, link) to the car itself. The posterchild is definitely Pandora. When running the standard Pandora app your phone can connect over Bluetooth to the car. When that happens you take control over the app through the car itself, with simple voice commands ("thumb up"), with buttons on the wheel (track skip), and even the preset buttons on the main console to pick any of your top 10 stations. And, yes, while doing this your phone's screen is disabled to prevent you from fiddling when you should be driving.

The demo itself unfortunately didn't go so well, with the phone timing out when attempting to load Pandora (which can be blamed on the crummy network here) and the car not correctly deciphering our voice (which can be blamed on the constant cacophany that envelops us). But, beyond those issues we were left quite impressed with the prospects here. Other compatible apps include OpenBeak and Stitcher News and compatible phones include Android and BlackBerry devices. iPhone support is coming soon, but you'll have to have a Ford Fiesta at the moment to use it, though the Mustang is next on the list. Yeah, we'd go with the latter too. Full details in the PR after the break, and we have a video demo coming shortly.

Update: Video is added!

Show full PR text

Ford Mustang Owners Next for SYNC AppLink and Unmatched Voice Control, Access to Mobile Apps

DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
2012 Ford Mustang owners are next in line for SYNC® AppLink, the industry-first software application that gives SYNC users hands-free voice control of their smartphone apps

Mustang will be the first vehicle with AppLink integrated with Ford's optional Voice-Activated Navigation System, adding enhanced access

SYNC AppLink for Mustang will first be demonstrated at the Pepcom Digital Experience, held in Las Vegas tonight, the day before the start of the 2011 International CES

Ford will launch SYNC® AppLink next as a factory-installed feature for the 2012 Ford Mustang. AppLink is the free software program that gives SYNC users voice control of apps stored on their smartphone.
Mustang will be the first vehicle that will offer AppLink with the standard SYNC interface, as well as be integrated into the optional Voice-Activated Navigation System, providing the additional convenience of an 8-inch touch screen for control.
"Mustang is an exciting next addition to the AppLink portfolio, giving Ford the ability to offer more of our customers a smarter solution to using apps while in the car," said Doug VanDagens, director of Ford Connected Services. "We continue to move quickly and migrate smart technologies across our vehicle portfolio that deliver solutions customers are demanding."
Just a few weeks ago, Ford went live with AppLink as a download on, available exclusively to 2011 Ford Fiesta owners for popular mobile apps, including Pandora internet radio, Stitcher news radio and OpenBeak.
Adding AppLink compatibility as factory-installed content to the iconic Mustang puts Ford further out front in the race to integrate smartphone apps into the car and shows the company's commitment to offer advanced in-car connectivity services and features to a widening range of vehicle owners.
Recent studies indicate 46 percent of adult smartphone users have apps on their phones and 36 percent of those admit to using those apps while commuting.
Mustang owners have historically shown a strong desire for connectivity in the car, with nearly 75 percent of Mustang buyers opting for the SYNC system at purchase. And for those who also opt for the Voice-Activated Navigation System, AppLink will integrate app access and control through the system's 8-inch touch screen.
"Our Voice-Activated Navigation System integration allows us to enrich the AppLink experience even further, giving customers an industry-first combination of voice control and touch-screen access to the apps stored on their mobile phones," said Julius Marchwicki, Ford SYNC product manager.
Codeveloped with Ford, the Clarion Navigation System available on Mustang is loaded with a number of features and functions designed to provide customers a superior level of connectivity and information, including an extensive set of navigation tools as well as up-to-the-minute news about weather, traffic, fuel prices, movie listing and more through Sirius Travel Link™.
Cool infotainment features are also abundant with the Ford Navigation System, including HD Radio™ technology, a digital jukebox hard-drive that can store up to 2,400 songs and easy access and useful screen displays for SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio. And since the Navigation System is factory-installed, it also works seamlessly with SYNC.
The navigation screen menu for SYNC apps first lists available factory-installed system apps such as 911 Assist™, Vehicle Health Report and SYNC Services through Traffic, Directions and Information. Tap the menu subset for Mobile Applications, and the Navigation System touch screen will then list the current SYNC-enabled apps found on the SYNC-paired smartphone that are ready for launch by voice command.
AppLink is currently compatible with Android and BlackBerry devices, and with Apple iPhone coming in early 2011. Current availability of SYNC-enabled apps:
Apple iPhone: Coming early 2011
Android: Available now (V1.5.3 or higher)
BlackBerry: Available now (Version 1.1.6 or higher)
Apple iPhone: Coming early 2011
Android: Coming early 2011
BlackBerry: Late availability
BlackBerry: Available now (Version 1.4 or higher)
Additional SYNC-enabled apps, smartphone integrations and new model SYNC-equipped vehicles ready for AppLink are coming soon, said Marchwicki.
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 163,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit
SOURCE Ford Motor Company