In addition to introducing the 6th-generation Ford Mustang with a Google Glass app, Ford Motor Co. also sported its in-car Sync AppLink at the Computex 2014. AppLink features connection to smartphones with different operating systems and therefore allows drivers to voice-control mobile apps they usually use while driving.
Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android in-car system, have both voice control and touch operations. Unlike them, AppLink can only be operated through voice commands and several simple buttons to allow users to better focus on driving and avoid possible accidents caused by swiping the screen while driving. The buttons make up for part of what voice control cannot satisfy with the touch feeling.
AppLink, co-developed by Ford and Microsoft, is now available on iOS, Android, and Blackberry, but not on Microsoft’s Windows Phone. This is quite interesting. Drivers can connect their phones to AppLink via USB and Android phones via bluetooth as well. iPhone can be paired to the system via USB only due to its bluetooth technology different from other smartphones, according to Ford.
Once connected to AppLink, the phone’s UI shows only simple texts and icons to avoid distraction. The display varies depending on the app in use. For example, when using music p layer app, the screen shows the cover of the album played. The apps being demonstrated on the three devices exhibited on site are mainly music players. Ford told us if opening a map app, the map and directions show both on the larger screen and the touchscreen but touch operations would not function during the navigation.
▲ The smartphone’s UI is locked and shows simple messages after being connected to AppLink. The menu in the bottom of the screen displays different functions depending on the apps chosen. The menu is controlled with buttons.