LAS VEGAS – App-enabled vehicles are one of the biggest trends so far here at CES 2012, and the Ford Motor Company jumped into the pool of manufacturers making new product announcements with the debut of NPR’s new SYNC AppLink-enabled news app. The app builds on NPR’s previous iPhone and Android efforts by adding AppLink integration and allowing users to control listening from their car’s infotainment system or with their own voice.
When not connected to your vehicle, the app functions the same as any other smartphone app, letting users search for particular programs or stations. But when you get in your car and sync your phone via Bluetooth with the AppLink system, the controls are turned over to your vehicle. When connected to your car, you can choose to listen to NPR stations from across the country, search programs by various topics, create playlists of specific programs and skip, pause or rewind individual stories.
Users can also access their favorites programs as presets on their car’s infotainment system. When a user syncs the app with their vehicle, the first thing they’ll hear is a four minute news brief. Once the brief ends, the app will pick up with their favorite programming. Users can also choose to start the app with their own programming as well.
Ford says they are also looking into similar content agreements for SYNC AppLink, but representatives were coy about what other companies or developers they are working with. Ford also said they are working on SYNC AppLink integration with Windows Phone, which makes sense considering SYNC was born out of a joint venture between Ford and Microsoft. Right now, only iOS, Android and BlackBerry operating systems are supported by AppLink.