CES 2012: Ford SYNC adds NPR News app, hits impressive milestones

Ford has joined forces with National Public Radio to bring NPR news programs and stations to select Ford vehicles with Ford SYNC AppLink. Since SYNC is powered by voice control, drivers can listen to NPR’s radio stations without even having to glance at their smartphone. The updated NPR app includes support for SYNC AppLink, which can then be set up in the car.

Ford cites a growing trend in Internet radio usage as one of the motivations for this new in-car tech. Using cell phones to listen to online radio has grown 5 percent in the last year and 49 percent in the last three years, according to Ford.

“With AppLink, drivers can manage smartphones through the in-car audio system or via the power of voice while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road,” said Doug VanDagens, Global Director of Connected Services at Ford. The ultimate goal of moving from physical cell phone use to voice control is presumably drivers’ safety.

Ford SYNC AppLink brings many of the NPR News app’s great features into Ford’s voice-controlled system. Newscast can automatically read back breaking news when you get in the car or on an hourly basis. Local news stations are also accessible by saying “Stations” and you can also program your favorites within NPR. Instead of browsing by station, you can browse by specific topic by announcing “Topics” or create a playlist with different combinations.

SYNC technology is now installed in 4 million of Ford’s vehicles and Ford is projecting to add 9 million more by 2015 for a grand total of 13 million SYNC-enabled cars. For 2012, every single one of the cars in Ford’s lineup boasts SYNC as an available feature. Two of them — the Ford Fusion and Flex — have SYNC built-in as a standard feature.

The updated NPR News app with SYNC AppLink is now in the Android Market or iOS App Store.

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