Ford has announced it will give 3.4 million more owners of 2010 and newer Fords with SYNC a free upgrade to SYNC AppLink, enabling them to control smartphone functions by voice.
A press release from Ford said more than 1 million Ford with SYNC AppLink are already on the road. The 3.4 million additional vehicles with SYNC that will be eligible to download SYNC AppLink will bring that total to an impressive 4.4 million, assuming they all download it. The release offered no details on how the download would happen — whether it would be downloadable by the vehicle driver in his or her spare time, or if a dealer service visit would be necessary. I’m betting it’s the latter, but we’ll ask and get back to you.
Ford Global Product Development Group Vice President Raj Nair said, “Ford was first to bring affordable and widely available advanced connectivity features to the market starting with SYNC, putting Ford firmly on the map as a technology company. With the rapid pace of mobile and digital innovation, our goal is to move the bar yet again, leveraging emerging technologies and the flexibility of the SYNC platform to enhance the ownership experience for customers.”
Currently, SYNC AppLink allows users to seamlessly control over 60 smartphone mobile apps — on both iOS and Android platforms ii using the car’s voice commands, enabling drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, the release said. Ford says it is the first automaker to offer an open developer program to help keep customers connected inside the vehicle and will continue to add new SYNC-enabled smartphone apps to enhance the driving experience.
Ford said its ultimate goal is to use connectivity and digital platforms “to transform every aspect of the ownership experience, and to build the foundation for future mobility initiatives,” according to the press release. “With the eventual proliferation of embedded telematics capabilities for Ford Motor Company’s SYNC system, as recently announced on Lincoln MKC, a newly aligned organization will manage connectivity across the entire enterprise,” it said.
Ford Global Marketing, Sales and Service, and Lincoln Executive Vice President Jim Farley said, “SYNC launched a sort of connectivity arms race in the industry. The opportunity is much bigger than just in-car technology — it’s now about connecting the vehicle to a larger ecosystem leveraging ‘the Internet of things.’ We are creating a seamless and immersive experience for customers that begins with their first visit to our digital sites and continues throughout their ownership experience.”
Don Butler, described in the release as a “telematics industry veteran,” will lead the new organization, Ford said. Butler was most recently Vice President of Global Strategy for Cadillac, the release said, where he led strategy and business development for the company’s OnStar division.
Nair said, “Not only does Don understand the connected car landscape, but probably just as important, he understands customer expectation. Having a leader with technology experience both inside and outside the industry is a rare combination — we’re excited to have Don join our team.”
Butler’s official title will be Ford Connected Vehicle and Services Executive Director, according to the release. Ford says he will be leading development of a near-, mid- and long-term plan, with the goal of delivering a best-in-class customer experience both inside and outside of the vehicle. The Connected Vehicle and Services group will work with the newly created Global Digital Marketing organization to help accelerate the goal of connecting customers to their vehicles, the release added.
Farley said, “We remain laser-focused on creating connected experiences our customers want and value, providing solutions specifically tailored to their individual needs and to market conditions.”