We got the chance to tour the Ford booth on Tuesday at Mobile World Congress, and were treated to a first-hand walk-through of the latest version of the company’s Sync in-car media and voice order technology. Chief among the new functions is Spotify integration, providing subscribers ubiquitous accessibility streaming music service using a few easy voice commands.
In practice, the program works without having complicated commands, which is a good thing in terms of controlling media whilst in motion. The fewer options, the less distractions, the better the passengers. Accessing Spotify via Sync effectively renders your handset’s media user interface useless using a slick splash display screen is a vote in favor of safety, and we support Ford’s proceed to audio-only control although the car is in motion.
The appearance of Spotify in Ford vehicles around the world (Ford announced that it will be getting Sync to the European market too, starting with the EcoSport SUV) also heralds the introduction of a set of public APIs open to app developers over the Android, iOS and BlackBerry platforms. Interested software makers can now incorporate Sync to their apps, supplying opportunities for integration with well-liked Navigation and media offerings.
As plug-in like this gets commonplace, traditional AM/FM radio will certainly carry on its long, slow, sad decline into obscurity. Starting with Sirius/XM, the car, once a sanctum for radio broadcasting, may be slowly moving to reflect the home multimedia environment. Radio consumption may be on a constant decline during the last decade. The simpler it is to entry customized on-demand content in a car, the less people will take the tuning dial throughout their morning drive.
In 2012, two-thirds of conventional radio listening occurred abroad, with the majority of that happening in an automobile. In 2011, 19% of people 18-24 used streaming audio services while traveling, a figure Ford is clearly seeking to capitalize on and expand. Great news for consumers searching for a more personalized experience in the car, but possibly disastrous news for the HOT 97s and Z-100s of the world.