San Francisco - Ford went to the CTIA convention here to announce the launch of a software developers kit (SDK) that will enable app developers to modify BlackBerry and Android smartphone apps so they can be controlled via voice through Ford's first- and second-generation Sync systems.
The apps would use Bluetooth to connect the phones to Ford's Sync system.
The development promises to expand the number of Sync-controlled smartphone apps, which are currently limited to Stitcher's Internet news and podcast app, OpenBeak's Twitter-streaming app with text-to-voice conversion, and Pandora's Internet music service, which delivers cellular-streamed music programming to a Sync-enable factory sound system via stereo Bluetooth. Apps can be downloaded from the Android and BlackBerry app stores.
"More and more drivers will find a way to use their devices and their apps while in the car," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group VP for global product development, during a keynote speech here. "They can do it unsafely, or they can do it through safer voice-activated solutions such as Ford Sync, keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel."
The SDK release, the company added, "marks the latest move by Ford to forge a more open collaborative bond with the wireless, consumer electronics and app developer communities to create a safer and smarter in-car connectivity experience that leverages" mobile devices that consumers already own.
At the show, Kuzak also asked the wireless industry to work closer with Ford to help motorists drive more safely. Ford, he noted, is the first automaker to adopt Bluetooth's Message Access Profile (MAP), which in Sync-powered
offers text-to-voice capability to read aloud text messages and reply to text messages by voice. He asked handset makers to adopt the standard in more phones.
Sync, launched in October 2007 on the Ford Focus, delivers voice control over a vehicle's entertainment systems, Bluetooth-connected cellphones for hands-free calling, and USB-connected MP3 players.
extend voice control to additional functions, including climate-control functions. It also features two USB ports instead of one and adds an SD card slot, RCA A/V inputs and Wi-Fi, which turns a vehicle into a mobile hot spot when a cellular USB modem is inserted. The next-gen system also adds built-in GPS, enabling drivers to use Ford's currently available TDI (Traffic, Directions, Information) service.