Driving isn't what it used to be. It's far more technological and way cooler. Ford has further reinforced this with its update to Sync with AppLink - which enables drivers to voice-control various apps, including TomTom navigation and Hotels.com - and its European unveil. We've been chatting to a Ford SUV on the show floor of this year's IFA electronics show to get a better feel for how it works.
Ford Sync had already introduced Spotify integration, but AppLink takes it a stage further. There's now an App Catalog to dive into compatible apps that can be communicated with via voice-recognition.
But the system doesn't plug into anything like Apple's Siri or Samsung's S Voice solutions, this is Ford's own proprietary system. App developers need to have engineered their app to operate with Sync, hence there being only a limited number of available in the marketplace, but once more jump on board there are endless opportunities of what can be done.
The first app we saw was TomTom integration where we told the car to direct us to our (imaginary) friend's house that was already saved into the system. No tapping on the screen or leaning forward, it just did it.The voice commands are relatively crude, so you'll need to known what works for which apps.
We almost booked a hotel via Hotels.com too. We were able to search for the nearest hotels relative to our position. Various options popped up and we picked out the best-sounding one with the click of a button and were then poised to confirm the booking by phone. All hands-free.
The current state of the car's "voice" is a bit 1990's Apple Mac, but there'll be room to improve this over time on Ford's side. And we hope it will.
Gimmick of genius? You decide. As more apps come on board we think that - properly utilised - there's benefit to the system, even if it's a little used facility.