Spotify in Ford EcoSport: The first listen
Spotify has announced that it will be joining Ford's Sync AppLink service in Europe when the new EcoSport comes out later this year. We jumped in the yet to be released car at Mobile World Congress to see how you'll be able to listen to your favourite tracks on the go.
The concept is simple. Connect your iPhone to the car, fire up the Spotify app and the two pair together to let you play tracks on the go. The phone acts as the hub, saving you from having to update your car's software if you are a Ford AppLink user already (the service has been live in the US for some time), and that means any adjustments or changes by Spotify are automatically enjoyed by you rather than having to wait for Ford to get around to do it itself.
Once connected the phone is, for lack of a better description, bricked - stopping you from fiddling while driving down the motorway at 70 miles an hour. Instead you are asked to control everything either via the traditional on-dash controls or, more likely the case, your voice.
The on-dash interface is fairly clunky, and all text driven. Ford's response to this is that it plays music, it is controlled by your voice, and therefore you don't need anything amazingly pretty featuring album art or pictures of the artist.
That's the key element to take into account here. It's controlled by your voice, and while you can already connect your phone to your car and play the Spotify app (or any other music-streaming service for that matter) you can't control them via your voice.
Ford, realising that voice is likely to be ever more important in the car, says that it's worked hard to improve the microphones in the car and even taken into account the acoustics with the EcoSport (it will be different for different cars of course). On the busy and loud show floor, our demo guy had no issues asking Spotify to play a set track or access a set playlist.
A couple of commands later, and the music starts playing. So the system doesn't pick up your just chatting to your friends, you do have to press a button on the steering wheel before each command, but we can see how that's going to be easier than fumbling through a menu system on the app on your phone, or on the multitude of buttons on the dashboard- and believe us, there are plenty.
For Spotify users the whole experience is painless. You have to be a Premium subscriber to be able to benefit from the AppLink connectivity and of course if you are listening in your car you won't be able to use your Spotify service elsewhere.
Spotify tells us it's aware of the problem this causes some uses and is looking into ways of solving the problem, but doesn't have anything to share at this time.
The other rather disappointing news is that it is available only to iPhone users at the moment. No Android app, although again, Spotify says it is looking into this.
With the system available only on the EcoSport to begin with in the UK, the numbers benefiting from this service are going to be small, but we suspect that this is just the start of a connected car future and one that means having something to listen to on your road trip shouldn't be a problem.