Ford has this pretty cool system called AppLink that lets smartphones take advantage of the car’s built-in voice recognition. The selection of compatible apps has been limited, but now they can count one more well-established name to add to their roster: Slacker Radio. Once paired over Bluetooth, you can tell Ford Sync to play stations (either custom built, or any of those tailored by Slacker’s DJs) over the stereo, block artists or songs you don’t like, or conversely mark others as favourites for easy access later, all hands-free.
Pandora already has a comfortable home with Ford Sync, and offers similar functionality, but Slacker has the major bonus of being available outside of the U.S. It’s also free if you can sit through the occasional ad, but if you’re willing to fork up ten bucks each month, you get unlimited skips, on-demand tracks, and local caching in iOS, Android, and BlackBerry apps.
The big downer for me is that it’s only the older Sync systems that support AppLink. Their displays are little more than a line or two of text, while the latest dash system from Ford called MyTouch features a big, bright touchscreen. MyTouch is due for an update earlier next year, but the phone functions won’t be changing much, and there still won’t be any AppLink. That’s really too bad, because it would be pretty handy having an exploded version of a smartphone app (or better yet, its tablet counterpart) running on a secondary display, but distraction is still an issue. At very least a few graphical elements, like album art in Slacker’s case, would be nice to see on an otherwise texty screen – after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Head on over here to pick up Slacker for Android, here for BlackBerry, or below for iOS (though the AppLink update is still pending approval).