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CES: Ford Syncs up with mobile apps

January 6, 2010 |  9:55 pm

Need a billion-dollar corporate turnaround? There’s an app for that.

Ford Motor Co., which has been focusing on info-tainment technologies to help differentiate its cars and regain market share, tonight announced enhancements to its Sync technology that would let drivers port some apps from their cellphones to their cars.

The Dearborn, Mich., automaker also said it will let developers integrate apps into Ford’s cars, so consumers can, for example, listen to Internet radio and control the app using the car’s stereo buttons or Sync’s voice commands. The video above, taken at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with Ford Sync Technology Integration Manager Julius Marchwicki, shows how the Pandora music app syncs up with a Ford Taurus SHO.

Ford, which adopted Microsoft’s Sync platform a year and a half ago, also added free turn-by-turn directions to Sync-enabled cars. Called Send to Sync, the feature lets users look up directions from Mapquest on a computer and click a button to have the directions sent to their car. The car then uses an internal GPS antenna to nail down the car’s location and display directions on an LCD touch screen in the dashboard in real time.

Send to Sync and the ability to integrate cellphone apps are part of Ford’s long-term plan to resuscitate its brand and regain market share that had been lost over the years to Japanese rivals.

“We want our customers to think of our cars as their home on wheels,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president for global product development, during an interview.

Thinking of playing Asteroids while driving to work? Fuggedaboutit! Ford said it will approve only apps that don’t interfere with the driver’s ability to focus on the road, but others aren't so sure. Go here to read what Times editorial writer, Jon Healey, says on the subject of safety.

-- Alex Pham

Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.

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