Ford revamps its oft-derided interface
Ford recently introduced Sync 3, an entirely new infotainment system that serves as a successor to the oft-derided MyFord Touch platform. Electronista stopped by the company's CES booth to try out the revamped interface in person, ahead of its official launch on new models later this year.
Company advances just one spot
Apple has placed 21st on Fortune's latest annual Best Global Green Brands list. The chart takes the 100 companies from Interbrand's annual Best Global Brands Report and narrows them down to 50, sorting them according to perceived environmental friendliness versus their actual efforts. The sway in one direction or the other is described as a positive or negative gap.
BlackBerry QNX may be faster, more accessible than aging Windows software
According to sources familiar with the matter, the Ford Motor Company will migrate its next-generation in-car Sync away from Microsoft's Windows. In its place will be beleagured BlackBerry's QNX at the core of the car's in-dash system. QNX will be less expensive than Windows, and will reportedly boost the speed of the next iteration of Sync.
Plans still nebulous
Apple is among of a number of US corporations that have agreed to change hiring practices to avoid discriminating against the long-term unemployed, says the New York Times. The pledge comes at the behest of President Obama, who is hosting a meeting of CEOs at the White House later today to promote his efforts. White House officials say that about 300 businesses have agreed to alter hiring policies, including 21 of the 50 biggest American corporations, and 47 out of the top 200.
Complaints from customers force reversal by cay manufacturer
Ford will be reverting back to offering in-car systems with physical controls rather than touchscreens and voice recognition, according to a report. The move will remove some of the added complexity of its Sync and MyFord Touch systems, in favor of the buttons and knobs that drivers are used to adjusting while driving.
First-generation module arrived with 2008 Focus for $395
A first-generation Ford Sync hardware module was celebrated at the Silicon Valley Computer History Musuem on Monday. The device is among the first automotive technologies not found under the hood to be inducted into the museum. Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Company and Henry Ford's great grandson, spoke at the induction.
Chevy GogoLink to undercut Ford for GPS options
GM on Wednesday sought to counter the navigation side of Ford Sync with a unique option depending on smartphones. GogoLink will give Chevy Sonic and Spark drivers in-car, turn-by-turn navigation by using a smartphone app that relays its position and info to the touchscreen in the center stack. It should range from basic points of interest coverage with offline map caching to Google-based local searches, live traffic, and 3D mapping.
MyFord Touch 2 reaches existing cars through USB
Ford on Monday said its MyFord Touch 2 car upgrade was heading out to customers this week. About 300,000 cars that qualify for the upgrade would get a free USB flash drive in the mail that would bring them to the new interface. An upgrade is expected to take about an hour; those with full GPS packages will also get an SD card with newer map info.
Sync coming to Europe in Ford B-Max first
Ford at MWC revealed it will debut its Sync in-car infotainment system in Europe on the upcoming B-Max minivan. The service will be available in nine languages, including UK English, EU French, EU Spanish, EU Portuguese, German, Italian, Turkish, Dutch, and Russian. At the same time, the carmaker introduced Sync AppLink globally, the system meant to allow drivers to operate their handsets using their voice.
Ford ships OpenXC beta dev kits for in-car apps
Ford's OpenXC open-source in-car app platform is now in the beta stage, with developers and universities getting the developer kits. The carmaker hopes to speed up in-car app development with the platform, and has revealed the first third-party app created with the toolkit. The app lets a driver send an automatic location update to a selected group of contacts that would advise them using a text or e-mail if a driver is late for a meeting.
Ford Sync updates get our teardown
Ford brought out a slew of updates to its Sync system in time for CES, and we've had the opportunity to try them all in time for CES. Sync Destinations has been given an update that now lets drivers send directions directly to the phone rather than just talking to Ford's cloud services. We saw it in action, and it's a very straightforward process that uses your device's Sync Destinations app as a form of direction store: a Bluetooth (Android or BlackBerry) or USB (these plus iOS) link uploads the files, and the phone can get directions pushed to it from Google Maps on the web.
We test drive Telenav's Scout app for Fords
We were given the chance to check out the product of the recently-inked Telenav and Ford deal at an event at the CES show. The smartphone Scout app will allow users to take their personal trips on the road with them, as it will seamlessly transfer from their smartphone screen to Ford's Sync-system equipped cars. It requires a constant data flow and GPS signal access from the smartphone, as content isn't stored locally on the car's hardware.
App syncs with in-vehicle system
Ford has revamped its Sync connected features for 2012, bringing new features to the mobile apps and in-vehicle systems. The car maker has chosen a new mobile app, Scout, that will enable users to take advantage of turn-by-turn navigation based on Telenav's map databases.
Ford Europe intros USB Music Box accessory
Ford of Europe will soon begin offering an accessory for some of its newer vehicles that will allow drivers to play back music and audio tracks from USB mass storage devices. Called the USB Music Box, it connects to the factory radio's auxiliary input and supports smartphones and MP3 players, recharging them as well. What's more, users can often navigate tracks through the steering wheel-mounted controls.
Ford Sync now takes Slacker voice commands
Ford's Sync system gained a new choice for AppLink direct control through Slacker. Those with updated versions of Slacker for iOS (App Store), Android Market), or BlackBerry (App World) can both stream radio from 3G or 4G to the car stereo system as well as use voice commands to start playback, skip, ban, or favorite tracks without touching the phone. Controls work both for online and for cached tracks.
Second investigation launched into L-Ion batteries
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) is reportedly looking into the safety of lithium-ion batteries used in electric automobiles. The action identified by Bloomberg tipsters comes in the aftermath of a recent battery fire involving a Chevy Volt. The scope of investigation will most probably include plug-in vehicles from Nissan and Ford, as well as other General Motors subsidiaries.
Ford remakes MyFord Touch to upgrade, fix UI
Ford kicked off the Los Angeles Motor Show by unveiling a remake of its MyFord Touch interface that it knew drivers were hoping for. The interface addresses the early user complaints and is both considerably easier to understand as well as more responsive to touch input. Audio, climate control, navigation, and phone calls all have more readily accessible common controls and are less cluttered, and the four are united by a home screen that's both easier to understand and quicker to use for top-level features.
Warns driver with audio, visual and physical signs
Ford today has announced new lane keeping technology to warn a driver when their car is inadvertently wandering out of its traffic lane. It relies primarily on a camera mounted behind the rear view mirror that watches the driver and road. The system then gently alerts the driver through several mechanisms including lights and vibrations.
User-downloadable upgrade at Ford Sync website
Ford has released a free software update for its SYNC in-car system. Version G1 V3.2.2 will give more SYNC users the ability to have text messages read aloud to them while driving through the emerging Bluetooth Message Access Profile (MAP). Last year, Ford praised RIM for embracing the standard, and called on other manufacturers and OS developers to do so. HTC, Samsung and LG have all only recently been certified for the MAP protocol.
Project based on technology from Bug Labs
Ford has announced that it has partnered with Bug Labs to offer an open-source platform for connected vehicles. The project, which is referred to as OpenXC and based on the latter company's Bug System technology, will enable developers and accessory makers to create new software and interchangeable hardware modules that can be added to upcoming vehicles.
Ford AppLink to get Spotify streaming
Ford has reached a deal with Spotify to integrate its Internet music streaming into AppLink. Drivers with Sync-equipped cars will have the option of controlling at least some parts of Spotify through the car's center stack and voice commands rather than having to use an iPhone or Android phone. The two haven't said when it will be ready.
Ford Evos fastback would have always-on Internet
Ford led into the Frankfurt Auto Show with a radical take on a car where Internet access and cloud storage is vital. The Evos Concept plug-in hybrid uses the cloud to store preferences about most aspects of the car. It can recognize driver behavior and optimize the powertrain to reflect driver habits, while it could could pick up an Internet radio stream from where the driver left off at home, shut off house lights when leaving, and pre-heat or cool the car based on the driver's schedule, not just the temperature.
Ford and Toyota unite on Microsoft tech
Ford and Toyota made a rare alliance for in-car technology on Monday. The two will collaborate on telematics and "Internet-based services" to help establish common standards. Both will keep developing their existing systems, which include Ford Sync and Toyota's Entune.
Available on base model 2012 Explorer and Edge
Ford announced that its SYNC system will be an option on all models of the Ford Edge and Explorer beginning with the 2012 model year. In addition, the price of the system will drop by $100. During the next three years, Ford will introduce the new SYNC pricing and choice strategy across the entire North American lineup. Ford will rollout the new pricing next for model year 2013 Escape, Flex, Focus, and Taurus automobiles.
Car systems such as OnStar, Sync, more hacked
Security researchers from iSEC Partners claim to have found a way to unlock vehicles from four large manufacturers using a cellphone and a text message. Don Bailey and Mathew Solnik can access remote control and telemetry systems from BMW (Assist), GM (OnStar), Ford (Sync), and Hyundai (Blue Link). They reverse-engineered access using off-the-shelf parts and a few hours of their time.
Kootol sends notice to Apple on messaging patent
Unknown software house Kootol on Friday sent notice to many companies claiming that they allegedly violate a messaging patent. It targets a wide swath of the industry that includes Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Foursquare, Microsoft, Nokia, RIM, Twitter, and others all allegedly violate a patent for "Method and System for Communication, Advertising, Searching, Sharing and Dynamically Providing a Journal Feed." Unusually, Kootol doesn't actually have the patent and is instead acting on a Notice of Allowance that lets it act on the patent but still requires that it pay for the patent later.
Ford SYNC AppLink gains momentum
Ford has added its SYNC AppLink connectivity technology to ten more vehicles in its range for the 2012 model year. Among the new models to get the technology include the Ford Fusion, Fiesta, F-150, Super Duty, Expedition, E-Series, Shelby GT500 and the Ford Mustang. The Microsoft-developed AppLink software connects smartphones with Ford’s SYNC in-vehicle information and entertainment system. It is designed to reduce driver distraction by allowing users to control their smartphone apps from the vehicle’s steering wheel controls and by voice commands.
Ford working with medical companies on Sync apps
Ford announced it is working with several healthcare experts to bring health-monitoring services to its Sync in-car information and entertainment system. Through the system's Bluetooth connection, Sync could pair with glucose measuring devices to warn drivers with diabetes of high levels. Those with asthma or allergies could also check up on their status right from the car's Sync screen.
Ford taps Google Prediction API for green trips
Ford on the evening of Google I/O's first day showed off a way to use the search engine's new Prediction API for better driving. Research from the car designer would measure a driver's behavior over time and calculate more efficient trips for the future. An electric or hybrid car could ask where the driver is going and optimize the route to make sure the car gets to its destination mostly or solely on electric power, Ford said in one example.
Toyota Microsoft deal uses Azure for in-car cloud
Microsoft and Toyota preempted their own special event with word of their plans for in-car cloud technology. Toyota's cars, starting from its 2012 electric cars and plug-in hybrids, will use Windows Azure's cloud services to improve in-car telematics. The upgrades should extend to anything from managing the car battery to music playback and GPS navigation.
Microsoft and Toyota to have April 6 event
Microsoft and Toyota late Tuesday organized a special event for April 6 at 4PM Eastern. The two said little about what it would involve but alluded to a "collaboration" between them. It was important enough that Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer and his Toyota equivalent, Akio Toyoda, would both be present.
AT&T to power Ford Focus wireless connection
Ford this week announced it has teamed up with AT&T for the wireless service for its Ford Focus Electric. Through a secure Ford website, an HTML5- or WAP 2.0-capable mobile web browser or app for Android, BlackBerry and iOS devices called MyFord Mobile, owners will be able to view and control vehicle settings. AT&T will transmit the data from the vehicle to a cloud service, which will then be accessible by the user.
Tesla Model S to get third-party app support
Tesla chief Elon Musk at the Cleantech Forum on Wednesday said the Tesla Model S would get third-party app support. He hoped developers would write car-specific apps for the 17-inch, Tegra-powered touchscreen system in the electric sedan. Text-to-speech was cited as a major example at the San Francisco meet as it would help cut down on driver distraction from reading text during a drive.
Ford to expand Sync language support to 19
Ford will take the opportunity at the CeBIT show in Germany on Tuesday to release its
Sync in-car infotainment system globally, with voice recognition support for 19 languages. The carmaker has worked with Nuance Communications, its partner in the voice recognition tech for the system, to recognize 10,000 voice commands in 19 languages. This includes abbreviations for text messaging.
Chevy intros MyLink to take on Ford Sync
Chevy tonight kicked off GM's own alternative to Ford Sync. MyLink is designed to pair up with smartphones and will stream audio and handle calls from smartphones over Bluetooth. Like its challenger, it uses voice commands (here handled using Nuance's engine) and will directly control smartphone apps aware of the interface, starting with Internet radio from Pandora and Stitcher.
Pandora goes for 100 million IPO
Internet radio's early competitor Pandora on Friday said it had put forward an SEC filing for an initial public offering of stock. The company said it hadn't determined the share price but in a disclosure suggested it wanted to raise as much as $100 million. It also didn't say when it expected the IPO to go live.
Ford to use Wi-Fi and phones for car warnings
Ford this morning claimed to be the first car builder to develop a practical wireless system that would let cars talk to each other. Using Wi-Fi or a secure FCC-given frequency, cars would detect each other within range and warn each other of traffic dangers. It could alert the driver of other cars reaching a blind intersection, if a car up ahead has suddenly stopped or gone erratic, or if a traffic jam would make a detour faster.
We go through Ford's Virttex driving dome
A blogger with media credentials for the North American International Auto Show ran his SUV off the road Tuesday, January 11, 2011, in Dearborn, Michigan. There were no injuries, or property damage. The vehicle survived without incident. Immediately following the shunt, the driver had lunch.
Ford outs Sync Destinations GPS smartphone app
Ford upgraded its mobile Sync features again tonight with the addition of one of its own apps. Sync Destinations borrows cues from Google Maps and will push directions and map search results from an Android device, iPhone or iPad to any 2010 or 2011 Ford that supports at least Sync's TDI (Traffic, Directions and Information) services. The link provides spoken directions that account for the departure and arrival times, both current and historical traffic patterns, and searches for businesses or contacts.
Ford Sync AppLink ready for Android, BlackBerry
Ford tonight acted on a promised upgrade to Sync and launched AppLink. The framework lets third-party smartphone apps talk to and control Sync with only the app, not the car, having to know the tasks. An updated Pandora Radio can stream audio from its 3G connection to the car, give the dash display track ID, and support thumbs up or down through spoken controls; the Twitter client OpenBeak can feed updates and read them back with text-to-speech.
Allows remote changes through can interface
Pandora has updated its Pandora Radio app for Android. The latest version (1.5.3 for all Android versions) adds support for Ford SYNC AppLinkin addition to bug fixes and performance enhancements. The Ford SYNC AppLink functionality allows the users of an Android phone to share information with their installed Pandora app through the car and its controls, rather than having to interact with the phone itself when driving.
Windows Embedded 7 outed, gets Silverlight, more
At the SAE Convergence 2010 exhibition on Tuesday, Microsoft revealed the new Windows Embedded Automotive 7 is now available to its car and in-vehicle entertainment partners. The new software brings with it enhanced speech commands, touch input, a Bluetooth connection with phones and other devices as well as access to maps, music, navigation and third-party apps. Silverlight is now integrated, letting partners create 2D or 3D graphics on their desktops and have them quickly be deployed on the car platform.
Dell takes top spot from HP in green rankings
Newsweek has released its own green rankings of companies for the second straight year, with little changes from year to year. Most significantly Dell has moved up from its number two spot, knocking HP out of the top spot, with a perfect score of 100. IBM, Johnson & Johnson and Intel rounded off the top five, with Apple unusually not listed [in one of the top spots in their category].
Ford pushes phone text standard, hyperlocal Sync
Ford at its CTIA keynote on Friday made a pair of efforts both to drive standards and to tease the future of where its Sync services were headed. The automaker said it was officially embracing Bluetooth's Message Access Profile, which lets paired devices get at a device's SMS messages to send or receive text, and called on phone OS designers to do the same. RIM's BlackBerry phones were doing it but others weren't, Global Product Development VP Derrick Kuzak said.
GM is reportedly planning on expanding its OnStar services to include new content offered for free, unnamed sources have told Bloomberg. The upgraded system is said to be linked to social networks such as Facebook, with speech automatically converted to text. It is unclear if GM has overcome the accuracy issues associated with some voice-to-text technology.
Ford Fiesta deliveries will have digital component
Ford today said that buyers of the 2011 Fiesta will get a special USB drive along with the car. Plugging it into the USB port in the car itself will give a 19-minute tour of the features on the drive home. Reaching a computer will also give the option of a Fiesta Community app that pools together a Wiki, podcasts, forums, dealer links and an image tool to edit the photo taken at the dealership.
Google Send to Sync sends maps to Ford cars
Ford on Tuesday unveiled a tie-in between its Sync service and Google Maps to speed up GPS navigation. A new option on Google Maps, Send to Sync, will push driving directions from Google Maps on the desktop directly to a car with Sync's navigation turned on. A Bluetooth phone works to send the data to the car using the voice link rather than 3G or a special app.
Google emerges as clear victor
Apple has placed sixth in a global survey of the "most reputable" companies around the world, says a consulting firm, the Reputation Institute. The results are based on a two-part poll. People in 32 countries were initially asked to rate the 600 largest corporations in their homelands; the top businesses for each country progressed to a second poll, where they were joined in competition by the "most visible and valuable" corporations with an above-average local reputation.
GM to partner with Google on Sync competitor?
General Motors is in talks with Google on developing an in-car telematics system to compete with Ford and Microsoft's Sync, a rumor claimed today. At least one source for Motor Trend believed Google's Android mobile OS will be adapted for in-car use. The system would allow GM's cars to pair up with any smartphone for wireless conversations, music streaming and perhaps even more, such as opening, starting or adjusting the systems of the cars; Sync can't currently touch the car's full equipment.
MyFord Touch picks fuel-efficient routes
Ford tonight added a new feature to its MyFord Touch in-dash car system on its way to launch. A new Eco-Routes feature (video below) gives drivers an extra option for GPS navigation that picks the most fuel-efficient path: it will avoid highways but still try to use major roads where the car can keep a consistent speed and save fuel. The system looks at historical data along with live traffic conditions to gauge where stop-and-go traffic might waste gas.