updated 03:35 pm EST, Fri December 18, 2009
Six students create two apps for Ford's SYNC
Ford has employed the help of six students from the University of Michigan to help it develop the first ever apps for its SYNC in-car, voice-activated multimedia user interface. To this end, it has developed an application programming interface (API) and had the students build two mobile apps that are totally compatible with SYNC. The automaker will open up its API to the developer community sometime next year pending successful beta testing.
The resulting apps were called SYNCast and FollowMe, with the former focusing on controlling Internet music, news and talk show streaming sites, while the latter is GPS-based app that will let two or more friends follow a lead vehicle without having to worry about keeping pace. The FollowMe app would do this by reading turn-by-turn directions to the following drivers, which trace the route of the lead vehicle.
The computer science students worked with their professors on the apps, and went to Apple's App Store for inspiration and to find the two apps they could modify to work with Ford's SYNC system, which uses vehicle buttons, displays and voice commands for operation. After failing to find what they sought and faced with legal challenges, the students decided to build the apps from scratch The challenge was to make the programs easy to use and the least distracting, while working with a three-month deadline.