Ford listened to the voice of its customers so they in turn can use theirs more effectively in their vehicles.

Ford’s SYNC AppLink will be available on an additional 3.4 million vehicles later this year and free upgrades available to current Ford owners to access and control smartphone apps via voice command. Ford’s new organizational alignments augment the company’s pursuit of a seamless customer experience for drivers─both inside and outside of the vehicle.

Michelle Moody, Cross Vehicle Marketing and Launch Manager, Ford Motor Company, told Loyalty360 that since the initial launch of SYNC in 2007, the platform has been designed to support updates and upgrades to keep pace with trends in consumer electronics.

“Offering new features is consistent with our dedication to providing and developing fully-integrated connected car experiences, but customers with older versions have expressed interest in Applink, so this action is consistent with our vision and customer expectations,” Moody explained.

SYNC® AppLink™ connects customers to some of their favorite smartphone applications through voice commands. Ford has migrated SYNC AppLink to more products and customers around the world, enabling vehicle owners to access and control smartphone apps including TuneIn, NPR and iHeartRadio via voice command. More than 1 million vehicles equipped with SYNC AppLink are on the road today.

Currently, SYNC AppLink allows users to seamlessly control over 60 smartphone mobile apps -- on both iOS and Android platforms - using the car’s voice commands, enabling drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

Ford’s long-term goal is to use connectivity and digital to transform every aspect of the ownership experience, and to build the foundation for future mobility initiatives.

Moody said that a customer typically buys a vehicle and drives it for two to seven years.

“This technology allows us to add features during the ownership period which add new excitement to owning that vehicle,” Moody said. “Given the average length of ownership, it is too soon to tell what impact this will have on owner engagement but it’s realistic to expect it will have an impact given the interest we see in upgrades. We want to expand the Applink user base continuing to make it attractive for app developers to adopt our API.” 

When the all-new Ford Mustang goes on sale later this year, the next-generation SYNC ®AppLink  system will give drivers easier access to new features from many of their favorite mobile apps while on the go. The new Mustang will be the first model in North America to feature the simpler menus, enhanced voice control and other new capabilities of Ford SYNC AppLink.

These new functions include:

Simpler in-vehicle menus and controls so drivers can launch apps on their mobile device more quickly by pressing the SYNC voice button on the steering wheel and just saying the name of the app without having to say the command “Mobile applications” first

Apps can get access to a variety of real-time vehicle data such as speed, acceleration, odometer and location that can be used by the connected app to further customize and personalize the user experience. For example, access to the in-vehicle GPS signal can enable more precise and accurate location-based services than phone sensors

A more consistent user experience due to voice pass-through capability, which enables developers to use the on-device or cloud-based voice recognition systems to evaluate commands given by the driver. This means drivers can use the same set of voice commands to control the app when connected to the vehicle as they would when not connected to the vehicle

Notifications that can be read aloud to drivers as they come in without ever touching the phone. Alerts are available anytime a mobile device is connected to SYNC AppLink, even if the app is not currently active or the driver is listening to the radio

As part of Ford’s plan to deliver a fully integrated connected car experience, 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 its vehicles.

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