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Ford brings SYNC and AppLink to Europe

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At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today, Ford announced that it is bringing its SYNC and AppLink platforms to Europe. After selling close to 4 million cars with its voice-activated hands-free platform in the U.S., Ford now plans to sell more than 3.5 million SYNC-enabled cars in Europe by 2015. SYNC will speak nine European languages and also feature Ford's Emergency alert system (that's SYNC 911 Assist in the U.S.). The first car to feature SYNC in Europe will be the also newly announced B-Max vehicle, but Ford plans to quickly bring it to other cars as well.

SYNC and AppLink

In addition to SYNC, Ford is also launching AppLink, its platform for connecting mobile apps to the car and controlling them by voice, in Europe. The company is actively looking for local partners here that will enable their mobile apps for Ford's system.

SYNC, which had been available in the U.S. for a few years now, will now also speak nine European languages. Given the multitude of countries SYNC has to work in, one of the most important features of SYNC here will be the new emergency assist feature, which will automatically detect where you are and call the right emergency service for the country you are in and then talk to the emergency services in the appropriate language.

Looking ahead, Ford noted that it wants to bring more cloud-based services to the car as well. In Ford's vision, you next car would automatically shut down the lights in your house when you leave your garage, for example, tell you about road-work and traffic jams and also find a parking spot for you.

 



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Connect Your Car to NPR: Ford Brings Voice-Controlled NPR Streaming App to SYNC

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Here is another nail in the coffin of traditional terrestrial drive-time radio: Ford and NPR just announced the launch of NPR's updated Android and iPhone apps with support for Ford's SYNC AppLink service that connects your phone to your car's built-in infotainment system. With this app, Ford drivers who own compatible vehicles will, for example, be able to get on-demand access to NPR's newscasts by simply using a voice command like "hourly news" to start the program.

Control NPR With Your Voice

Ford is deeply invested in making voice control a central feature of its in-car user experience (partly for safety reasons), so the NPR app, too, will make heavy use of the built-in voice recognition features that are part of SYNC. Some of the examples Ford notes are the ability to select programs like Car Talk or Tell Me More by just asking your car to play them. In addition, you can also get access to recent stories from NPR's many programs by asking for "stories" and then the topic you are interesting in (say "science").

You can also use the app on your phone to create your own custom playlist before you start driving, of course.

While Ford has launched a number of AppLink-compatible apps in recent months, this is the first dedicated news app for the service and NPR's first foray into the world of connected cars. As with other AppLink apps, you do bring your own wireless connection to the car. This is Ford's model for in-car connectivity in general. Other car makers have opted for partnerships with wireless carriers to bring the Internet to their cars.

Given how many people already stream music and radio programs over the Internet in their cars, we can only hope that others will follow suit (iHeartRadio seems like a natural partner).

More New SYNC Apps from TeleNav and Ford Itself

Ford today also announced two other apps that support AppLink, including one for TeleNav's newly announced personal navigator Scout.me service and a new version of Ford's own SYNC Destinations App.

Ford's SYNC AppLink is available on a range of 2012 models, including the Fiesta, Mustang, Fusion and F150.

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