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Today at the TechCrunch Hackathon, Ford, the second largest automaker in the U.S., teamed with Spotify, the fast-growing Swedish music service that recently arrived in the states, to demonstrate the current opportunities for in-car app innovation as well as the new voice-activated Ford2011 Ford Fiesta to Receive New SYNC AppLink Cabability SYNCsystem. Just to clarify: This isn’t an “official partnership”, it’s just a cool hack meant to demonstrate how easy it is to integrate with SYNC. For those unfamiliar, Ford SYNC is the in-vehicle communications and entertainment system that allows drivers to make hands-free phone calls, as well as control music and other in-car entertainment with their very own vocal chords. SYNC recently added integration with AppLink (in 2011 Ford Fiestas for now) to allow hands-free use of smartphone apps in the car.

At Hackathon today, Ford offered developers the opportunity to learn more about SYNC’s API and demonstrate how to integrate apps like Spotify into SYNC. This is Spotify’s first in-car integration, and it’s still an initial hack, but it’s a pretty good start. We’re hoping this becomes a long-term Ford/Spotify strategy.

The tremendous growth of smartphone apps has created the need and the opportunity to provide the same voice-controlled solution for apps that drivers are now using in the car — but it also has to stay safe. “Look ma no hands!” is never something you want to hear while in a car with someone. SYNC provides users, through voice assistance, with the ability to easily control their car’s multimedia and app functions, and at at the Hackathon today Spotify is on board in the passenger seat.

According to Julius Marchwicki, the SYNC AppLink program manager, TC Hackathon was the perfect place to launch to give developers the information they need on Ford’s new API and SDK to get developers hacking on in-car entertainment and app goodness.

So just what’s possible for developers with SYNC AppLink at this point in its development? When working with SYNC-enabled smartphone apps, developers are able to create a voice user interface using SYNC’s in-vehicle speech recognition system, write information to the radio head display or in-vehicle touch screen, using the text-to-speech engine, the in-vehicle meny system to provide commands for their mobile app, and vehicle data, like speed, GPS location, and fuel economy. All good stuff to know, and it’s nice to see Ford, a company that didn’t look so hot a few years ago, getting in on the innovation train.

SYNC AppLink will be available in 10 models (of Ford vehicles) beginning in 2012, including Ford Fusion, the Fusion Hybrid, Mustang, Shelby, Fiesta, F-150, and more.

 As seen on techcrunch.com

Social networkers, Ford has created a car just for you. The Ford Evos plug-in hybrid concept vehicle is so smart, it can socially network with its driver’s friends and recommend roads and routes that might be quickest or the most fun to drive.

Its designers intend the car to always be connected to the cloud, and it will know the driver’s work schedule, constantly keep tabs on traffic and weather conditions, and assist and monitor the driver in an attempt to “enable a seamless lifestyle between home, office and car linked by access to the driver’s personal information.”

This sporty four-seat concept car was first rolled out in Germany this week, giving the world a peek at this design concept that will make its debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

According to Ford, the vehicle gives its driver the ability to tap into this “personal cloud” of information at any time – for example, picking up where the driver left off on that favorite song he was listening to inside the house before he began driving the car. The vehicle’s smart systems monitor its driver’s “physical state and workload,” adjusting the car’s handling, heating, cooling and music to suit the drivers level of alertness, perhaps even keeping him from falling asleep.

We especially like its ability to pre-cool or preheat the car, making sure it’s set at the driver’s favorite temperature by the time he plops down into its spectacular-looking interior. A Ford spokesperson says, “The car gets to know you and can act as a personal assistant to handle some of the usual routines of a daily commute.”

We think that’s cool, and it might reduce the driver distraction we’ve experienced while driving Ford’s current crop of SYNC-equipped vehicles that act like rolling smartphones. But some drivers might find all that computerized attention and personalized assistance a bit creepy at first.

Speaking of looks, take a look at the gallery below and notice its angry bird-like face with its narrow LED eyes and raised grill. It looks sporty to the point of being almost scary. And like many concept cars, this one has gull-wing doors that we expect might be too impractical to make it into a real world car.

Sign us up! Not so fast. Will we be able to drive this car anytime soon? Alas, Ford says no, the company intends to use the ideas incorporated into this futuristic vehicle in many of its upcoming cars you’ll see on showroom floors. Even so, it gives us a tantalizing peek into the cars of the future, and if Ford doesn’t build this car, someone else will.

As seen on Mashable.com

Ford Evos Concept Launch, Berlin

Ford Evos Concept Launch, Berlin

Ford Evos Concept Launch, Berlin

Ford Evos Concept Launch, Berlin

 

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