NPR News App with Ford Sync AppLink - 2012 CES

NPR News App with Ford Sync AppLink - 2012 CES

If there’s one in-car tech trend we predict will really take off by the end of this year, it’s in-vehicle apps. With most major automakers now phasing in touch-screen infotainment interfaces, it’s pretty much ‘game on’ to see which automakers, mobile services, and major media outlets can coordinate to bring their experience into the vehicle—and hopefully keep it mostly hands-free.

Pandora and Stitcher are two companies that already have integration in a number of vehicle, but now NPR is jumping into the game. At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Ford and NPR are announcing what Ford says is the first dedicated news app for Sync AppLink. Likewise, NPR is the first major news organization to release its own in-car streaming app.

The new in-vehicle app interacts with the smartphone app installed on your Android handset, iPhone, or iPad, letting users choose and listen to favorite shows and stations through the sound system by harnessing the data connection from your handset.

If you have that ‘unlimited’ data plan, hold on to it. According to Ford, over the past year five percent more drivers are using smartphones to listen to Internet radio in their vehicles, and time spent listening to online radio in general has increased 49 percent in three years.

Standout features of the app include being able to scroll through and select any NPR member station for live streaming, simply by saying “stations,” or saying “hourly news” and getting the latest news summary. Or by saying “programs,” you’re able to scroll through shows with live or episode streams. The system allows you to easily pause skip forward, or repeat, and Carl Kassell of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me has provided his voice for help within the app.

You’ll also be able to create playlists, or program your sound system’s presets to go to a particular program (Car Talk, perhaps?) or live station stream.

The feature will work on any iPhone or Android handset with a data connection and the now-updated NPR News app. Sync AppLink is now offered in the 2012 Ford Fiesta, F-150, Fusion, Expedition, Mustang, and Shelby GT500, and in Super Duty trucks.