2011 Ford Fiesta

2011 Ford Fiesta

How would you like to choose between personalized Pandora stations, or select from the programming in your Stitcher custom channels, while keeping both hands on the wheel? With some new features set to debut in the new 2011 Ford Fiesta, you could do that, and a lot more through a connected smartphone.

Pandora, Stitcher, and OpenBeak are the first three applications to be SYNC-enabled, allowing hands-free voice control of app functions—which, of course, stream through the audio system thanks to SYNC's Bluetooth or USB-based connectivity.

The hitch? For now, the interface only works with Android and Blackberry apps—and specific ones at that. It doesn't yet work with Windows Mobile, or with the iPhone. Ford says that "interoperability with the iPhone and other smartphones" will be introduced next year.

Ford (NYSE:F) now says that it has three different types of apps in the so-called SYNC ecosystem: built in apps, like Ford's Vehicle Health Report and 911 Assist, cloud-based apps such the Traffic, Directions & Information app, and third-party apps like Pandora and Stitcher.

Some are predicting that by 2015, smartphones and mobile devices will be the number-one way we get our Internet access, and Ford is hoping that within just a few years the number of third-party apps will bring it all home to the car—and keep it safer and more convenient with simple voice commands. To help stoke that app market, Ford has released a toolkit for app developers.

Pandora for the iPhone

Pandora for the iPhone

Although we haven't yet experienced the music-app features firsthand, we like how Ford is backing up its hype with some truly found-nowhere-else features.

Last year, the Fiesta Movement beckoned hipsters through Facebook and Twitter to cut YouTube video submissions. Then Ford chose 100 winners who got a Fiesta—and the expectation to carry on their own social-media Fiesta—for six months.

The Fiesta, with fuel economy ratings of up to 40 mpg, an extremely stylish interior, and buzzy exterior hues like Blue Flame and Lime Squeeze, has been priced from a low $13,995 base MSRP up to about $23k fully loaded. But many of those who reserved their Fiesta online or via texty text before April 2 got a free SYNC entertainment system upgrade.

The Fiesta will begin reaching dealerships this summer.