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CES 2012: Ford builds voice-controlled app into cars



At the Consumer Electronics Show, Ford has announced that it is the first automobile company to give drivers easy in-car access to the iHeartRadio app using voice control through Ford SYNC AppLink.

The new iHeartRadio, Clear Channel Radio’s industry-leading digital radio service, brings users a best-in-class customisable digital listening experience that combines the best of both worlds to deliver everything listeners want in one free, fully integrated service: more than 800 of the nation’s most popular live broadcast and digital-only radio stations from 150 cities, plus user-created custom stations, which provide listeners more songs, better music intelligence, more user control and deeper social media integration.

The SYNC-enabled iHeartRadio smartphone app can be accessed using simple voice commands in the growing number of vehicles that now offer Ford SYNC with AppLink.

“Clear Channel’s strategy is to be wherever our listeners want us to be ‚ no matter the device ‚ with the programming and services they expect, and our relationship with Ford is an important piece of that strategy,”” said Brian Lakamp, president of Clear Channel Digital. “”Now Ford drivers will be able to create their own custom stations, tune in to the leading radio stations from 150 cities and stay connected to their favorite on-air personalities. Through Ford SYNC AppLink, iHeartRadio will offer drivers the ultimate voice-controlled, personal listening experience.””

“”Smartphones now account for half of all new mobile phones and people increasingly expect to take control of when and where they listen to their media,”” said Julius Marchwicki, SYNC product manager. “”With the AppLink-enabled version of iHeartRadio, Ford drivers can listen to their favorite stations even if they aren’t local, get recommendations and share what they listen to through Facebook.””

Research shows more and more drivers are streaming radio from their mobile phones while on the road. In the Arbitron & Edison study, “”Infinite Dial 2011: Navigating Digital Platforms,”” the number of drivers using their cell phones to listen to Internet radio in their vehicles has increased 5 percent just in the past year.

Overall, time spent listening to online radio has also increased 49 percent in the last three years. Flurry Analytics estimates 6.8 million new Android and iOS devices were activated over the recent Christmas weekend.

Easy to use

Being the first to add the iHeartRadio app with voice commands puts Ford further out front in the race to integrate smart technologies that are easy to use in to vehicles, a growing customer demand that is quickly becoming standard.

The iHeartRadio app, which can be accessed using steering wheel-mounted controls or SYNC’s voice commands, has numerous easy-to-use features that tailor the listening experience in the vehicle to meet the needs of the driver. With the app, the driver can do everything from creating a custom station and stopping or starting a song to playing local iHeartRadio stations and finding traffic reports based on location through the phone’s GPS using simple voice commands or the buttons on the steering wheel.

The app lets drivers use voice commands to find exactly what they want to listen to by saying “”genre,”” “”city”” or “”personality”” to search by type of music and location of station or host ‚ saving time and energy that would normally be used repeatedly turning the dials.

iHeartRadio also connects users, hands-free through SYNC AppLink, to their Facebook Timelines, which enables users to share music with friends.

Drivers who want to hear other stations similar to one they are already listening to can just say “”recommend stations”” or use the “”my stations”” command to listen to custom stations they have created or their favorite stations. While listening to custom stations, the “”thumbs up”” and “”thumbs down”” commands can be used to like or skip songs. The content of custom stations can be further adjusted by saying “”more discovery”” or “”less discovery”” to restrict the playlist to more familiar tracks or expose drivers to new music.

SYNC AppLink

A study conducted by Nationwide Mutual Insurance in 2010 indicates more than one in four of the millions of Americans who download smartphone apps admit to using those apps while driving.

Recognizing that more drivers are using smartphone apps while driving, Ford decided to become a part of the global solution by developing AppLink to give SYNC users industry-exclusive hands-free voice control capability of smartphone apps.

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