Ford Launches App Developer Program at CES 2013

Ford When I saw this headline “Ford Launches App Developer Program” in my email. I thought of two things right away, the first was I wish I owned a new Ford and the second and more importantly I wish I was a developer. This is the first open mobile app developer program in the automotive industry. It works through the SYNC connectivity system and AppLink. The package includes a software development kit, technical support from Ford engineers and the development community. For developers who have an idea but are not sure how to proceed they can work with jacApps who has been chosen to provide development and technical support for third-party developers.

The Ford Developer program has been beta tested with a group of invited developers. This group has included everything from two-man startup like Roximity to large organizations like National Public Radio and Major League Baseball. Ford also worked with Facebook and participated in TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon during the creation of the program. There are currently more than 3 dozen AppLink-compatible apps available on iOs and Android. During the beta testing Ford worked out the details of the software development kit (SDK), documents and the technical support systems. Ford now feels the program is mature enough to release to the general developer community.

The Ford program is similar to those created by Apple, Google and Facebook. Developers who are interested in the program can register at the Ford Developer Program and download the AppLink SDK. The SDK includes code libraries and documentation for the APis. Once the AppLink code is added to the developer’s app they can then submit it for review by Ford engineers. The Ford engineers make sure the app works properly and is suitable for use in a vehicle. Ford then works with the developer to provide a distribution license. The app is then ready to be submitted to the relevant app marketplace. If you are a developer and are interested in having your app be integrated into an automobile now is your chance. New app partners that joined the existing Ford AppLink program recently include Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Amazon Cloud Player, Aha Radio, Rhapsody, Greater MediaGlympse and BeCouply.

 

This article written @ GeekNewsCentral.com and if seen anyplace else has been illegally re-posted.

Ford Announces New Silicon Valley Lab

Ford has just announced the opening of their brand new Silicon Valley Lab.  Nestled in the heart of the U.S. tech industry, the new lab will work closely with the innovators in the area in the hopes of bringing new technologies into being.  “We have been innovating for more than a century at Ford, but we acknowledge we don’t have a monopoly on creativity,” said Ford. “Our new office will complement our existing research efforts by allowing us to tap into the region that has been driving consumer technology forward in recent decades.”

Ford has been at the forefront of computer technology in automobiles for time now, and their SYNC and AppLink technology is among the most innovative in-car technologies currently on the market.  SYNC and AppLink provide integration with today’s devices and allow the driver hands-free control over much of what goes on in today’s automobiles.  SYNC began in 2005 when Ford partnered with Microsoft to try and change the face of car technology and also turn around their own fortunes.

“We want Silicon Valley to view Ford as a platform that is open, accessible and ready for their innovative ideas and technologies,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering.  Venkatesh Prasad, general manager of the new lab and senior technical leader of open innovation added, “As new ways of processing, curating and filtering information are conceived, the possibilities for enhancing personal mobility are virtually limitless.”

As part of the announcement, Ford provided the following trip down memory lane.

Ford Sync Has new Apps Coming

Ford has established themselves as the auto-maker of the tech generation, with their innovative in-car technologies like “Sync”, which was a Microsoft technology that they were the first to license.  Last month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas they unveiled several new apps that will be coming to the service.

The list included NPR Radio, for those who can’t live without their “This American Life” fix (guilty), Stitcher Radio, Tune-In Radio, and IHeartRadio.  In addition, they debuted Sync Destinations and announced that Scout, another location app, will be integrating into Sync in the future.  Be sure to watch the video below to get a demonstration of how all of these apps, running on your phone, will integrate right into the Sync touch-screen built into your Ford car.  Your phone, and it’s apps, will integrate into your car right over a Bluetooth connection.

Currently Ford is not only looking at adding Sync to all new vehicles, but actually looking at ways that they can add it to previously released vehicles.  All of the Sync features are voice-controlled.  You’ll hear a complete list of features and vehicles in the video.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine.

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New Ford Connected Products announced at CES 2011

Ford made some big announcements at CES 2011, the focus of this interview centered around their in-car technology, known as Sync.  One of the biggest was AppSync, which takes the UI from your mobile device and integrates it into the car.  That allows drivers to access apps on their mobile device through the Sync system via voice commands.  They also teased some apps of their own which will be coming out soon.  You will also hear a little bit about some the great safety feature that are being built into new Ford cars, the integration of extras like travel services information and even speed cameras and dangerous intersections warning.  You can even check for coupons as pull up to a store or restaurant.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Esby Larsen of MrNetCast.com

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Extreme Social Networking

Want to Facebook on Mount Everest? Maybe Foursquare at the Antarctic? Twitter from 50,000 leagues under the sea?

Wherever we go, we will be able to connect and communicate.

The most recent news – Mount Everest gets an Ncell  tower so you have signal on your climb up. It makes sense – if you get in trouble, you can contact someone to get you. I am guessing Ncell will have a special rental plan for your journey up and down.

It’s not the first time we’ve heard of a connection in an extreme place. Remember Parker Liautaud? The 15 year old who was the first to foursquare the North Pole? He used social media to record his journey. YouTube, Twitter and of course, Foursquare.

It’s a long cry from the days of Gilligan’s Island. No longer will the crew be able to worry about contacting the authorities. Just pull out a cell phone and dial 911.

How many have connected to the Airplane’s WiFi? Tweeting from 35,000 feet is not the mile high club, but it is pretty cool. At least you can watch some Netflix during the flight if you have to suffer through “Confessions of a Shopaholic” again.

Back in CES 2009, we interviewed Spot GPS – a device for extreme travelers to be located if something happens. Not exactly something you will be able to tweet with, but if you are suffering in an extreme situation, you won’t have to be like Aron Ralston and cut off your arm with a Swiss Army Knife to survive.

Even on extreme road trips, you can stay connected. Ford’s SYNC system allows you to jump in a Ford Fiesta and you can have the car tweet your whole trip.

So with all these new places to connect, it begs the question – when will we be able to connect on the Moon? Mars? Maybe just at Grandma’s house?

Ford with Microsoft SYNC System in Ford Taurus SHO

This last week has been a pretty good one for me, for I got to review more than just a computer, printer or network. I got to review a car. Well, mostly the computer in the car, but still a very tricked out Ford Taurus SHO. A $37,000 vehicle with the Microsoft SYNC system inside.

Ford delivered the Taurus last week to my home. Blue-Grey in color, it didn’t look like the Taurus of years past. I used to drive one for work from time-to-time. That is when the car pool had one available.

However, this one was fully loaded. It had everything from the aluminum wheels to the SHO branded floor mats. It really made me feel like I was on top of my game when driving it. Not that I don’t like the current car I have – But when the time comes, I wouldn’t mind swapping for that one. As long as I can put a full drum set into it.

So let’s take a look at the car, the geeky stuff and other items inside:

The Car:

Ford Taurus SHO

Ford Taurus SHO

We’ll start out with the car itself. This is the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO with 3.5 Liter EcoBoost V6 engine. EcoBoost Technology combines turbocharging and direct injection. It basically works like a V8, but with fewer emissions. The 365 horsepower engine can get 17 city/25 highway using All-Wheel Drive (AWD).

The wheel stock was 19″ premium painted luster nickel-aluminum. The SHO uses the intelligent Access technology with Push-Button Start. All you need is the FAB close by and you will not only be able to get in your car, but also start it without taking anything out of your pocket.

The Geeky Stuff:

Inside the car was where I was focused on. It contained the Microsoft SYNC system – A navigation software package, personal media player and full Satellite / AM /FM radio. The voice recognition was from Nuance – makers of the Dragon Naturally Speaking software. Connection was through audio jack, USB or Blutooth.

Microsoft SYNC

Microsoft SYNC

Navigation:

The voice navigation system was fairly straightforward to understand. If you have used a Tom-Tom or Garmin system, then the SYNC navigation will be second-hand. I entered in a couple destinations and the voice guided me to where I needed to go. There were a couple times it was unsure, so it said “Incomplete data, proceed with caution”. That way, I didn’t trust the system to the point where I would drive it off a cliff.

The voice navigation was also very competent on what it was saying. “Turn left onto Ambercrombe – Turn right onto McKenna..” and so forth. I think there was only one time I noticed the voice sound digital in my travels.

You can put in new destinations, or pre-program common ones. Just in case you forget where the store is, or if this is a company car – you can pre-program the destinations so new drivers can find the route without asking for directions.

The Climate Control:

What can I say about this? April is a Hot – then Cold kinda month. One minute you have all the windows rolled down, then the next the heat is blasted at 90 degrees. To be able to have all that at your fingertips is pretty important. I do have to say, though – The actual button configuration toward the bottom was more confusing than on the SYNC system. Especially when I wanted to turn the blower up and down.

The Sound System:

Microsoft SYNC with Sony Speakers

Microsoft SYNC with Sony Speakers

This is by far the best sound experience I have had in a car. The 12 speakers by Sony pushing out 390 Watts brought clarity to anything I played. Podcasts and music was both enjoyable to listen to, and easy. With the Bluetooth built in, I didn’t need to connect my iPhone to a cable – although I had an option through the USB port. The 10 GB of Hard Drive storage could allow me to put my CD’s into memory.

I was a little flustered that it wouldn’t let me upload MP3 CD’s into the car. I could play the MP3 CD through the system, though. Once I had the jukebox running, I could go through the songs as easily as if they were on my computer.

Since the system has Hands-Free options, I was able to answer phone calls with my cell in the pocket. It stored all my contact info so I could just push the button and go. The Stereo would duck under the phone voice, the backup sensors or the Navigation voice if needed. It made for a comforting experience where I didn’t have to juggle for phones or cables.

The Bling:

I was playing with the interior lighting all week. There were 2 buttons on the dash – One that dimmed a series of LED lights inside the car (by the door handles, in the compartments) and another that changed the color of the LED lights. I could choose the light based on my mood, but I mostly stuck with my favorite color: Green.

What is missing?

When we talked with Ford at CES, I thought there was going to be a special uplink option for music and podcasts. I was expecting to let the car talk with a wireless system to download media. That wasn’t the case. Sure, I could have used a Bluetooth connection from the house, but it would have been nice to be able to connect to the media server and get the music and podcasts that way. This was the only thing I wished it would have.

The car specs said I had a Rear View Camera. Either I missed it or this model didn’t have one. If it did, then I am surprised it wasn’t an intuitive system.

The Verdict:

I enjoyed the ride for the week. I got to take a couple longer trips and felt comfortable the whole time. I had a few friends ride along and they really enjoyed the handling. The only thing they mentioned on the car was the design of the dashboard felt a little enclosing. It was an akward looking dashboard, but there was one big Sony speaker in the middle.

I was really happy to drive this car around for the week. I would like to thank Ford for their generosity in letting me review the system. The SYNC system is absolutely a fabulous idea and with some extras can be a very useful and very fun addition to your drive.