Ford Sync impressed us at the Consumer Electronics Show five years ago for how it lets drivers control entertainment and navigation systems with their voices, enabling them to keep their eyes on the road. Now, Ford Sync has a new friend: the unlimited music service MOG, which select Ford 2012 models can control via both in-dash and voice commands.
This marks the latest of a string of advances of MOG into the car, a journey upon which it embarked in January 2011. MOG demonstrated the first integration of an on-demand music service with a car at SXSW 2011, and became then dashboard-c0ntrollable in BMWs and Mini Coopers. However, this is the first time MOG subscribers will have been able to control the service in a car with their voices.
This new integration is available in “a range of 2012 model Ford vehicles including Fiesta, Fusion, F-150, Super Duty, E-Series, Mustang and Expedition,” according to MOG. We assume that the reason it won’t work in all of the millions of previous Ford Sync cars is because only the latest version of Sync supports AppLink (update: See Ford’s response to our question about why it doesn’t work on those models below).
To use the system, Ford drivers with the new Sync system in their dashes can simply connect an iPhone to their car’s USB cable and select the MOG app. Then they can use Ford Sync voice commands (which actually work) or the dial on their car stereo to stream any song on MOG; play cached downloads (thus avoiding the use of their cellular data plans); and select radio stations customized for their specific taste.
With new statistics surfacing every day about the dangers of using a cellphone while one drives — especially for tasks that require looking at a screen, such as choosing music on an iPhone — systems like this are absolutely crucial, and everyone we’ve asked agrees that smartphones will be the car modem for the foreseeable future, positioning MOG in a good place for Ford drivers. They can also use iHeartRadio, Pandora, Slacker Personal Radio, and Stitcher Smart Radio, but this appears to be the first on-demand music service in these cars.
Plenty of car safety apps exist, in case you’re intrigued by the idea of driving safely but don’t want to buy a new Ford. But those only handle playback of the songs on your phone. To join the music cloud and the car, with access to over 15 million songs anywhere (including MOG’s innovative radio options), the only way forward for the moment is to use the smartphone as the car’s modem and as brains of its stereo system.
It’s also worth noting that Android users are left out in the cold once again. Car manufacturers, just like app developers, find it simpler to work with iOS, rather than dealing with all the fragmentation on the Android platform.
Update: We tried to clear up our confusion about why AppLink is only available in certain Ford Sync-capable cars. Ford Connected Services product manager Julius Marchwiki responded thusly (the short story appears to be that Ford could put AppLink in previous models but has decided not to do so for now):
AppLink first launched as a downloadable software upgrade for the 2011 Fiesta. We then incorporated the feature into SYNC (generation 1) compatible vehicles as the new model year launched.
That added the followed 2012 models: Fiesta, Mustang & Shelby GT500 (and 2013 Mustang now on sale), F-150 & Raptor, Expedition, Fusion, Super Duty, E-Series vans, and Lincoln MKZ and Navigator.
For the 2013 model year, vehicles like F-150 and Fusion adopt MyFord Touch (SYNC generation 2), therefore AppLink won’t be available on those vehicles until we launch the software for that platform.
We continue to also look at the opportunity to go backwards in model year (2010 & 2011) in terms of compatibility, but we haven’t made a decision to offer that yet.
(Top photo courtesy of MOG; bottom image courtesy of Ford)