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Ford brings Pandora, Twitter to Fiesta

Ford will launch its AppLink mobile app service in the all-new Ford Fiesta later this year.

The 2011 Ford Fiesta got its North American debut at the LA Auto Show, powered by 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with
Josh P. Miller/CNET
Ford Sync Mobile App service
Ford's AppLink service integrates smartphone apps such as Pandora with its new Fiesta model. Sarah Tew/CNET

Earlier this year, at  CES and the Detroit auto show, Ford gave us demonstrations of Sync's new mobile app capability. Taking it to production stage, Ford announced that this new Sync feature, called AppLink, will make its debut in the all-new Ford Fiesta, entering showrooms this summer.

Initially, AppLink will work with Pandora, Stitcher, and OpenBeak on BlackBerry and Android smartphones. Pandora offers customizable Internet radio stations; Stitcher compiles and plays podcasts and other Internet audio; and OpenBeak is a twitter app. AppLink lets you control these apps using the car's radio controls.

The 2011 Ford Fiesta is the first Ford model to get AppLink. Josh P. Miller/CNET

During our demonstrations of this new Sync feature, we saw how you could tune in Pandora stations, seeing the station name on the car's radio display, and have podcasts played through the car's stereo from Stitcher. With Pandora, it was even possible to give a song a thumbs up or down using the radio controls.

The Ford Fiesta launches in the U.S. as Ford's new economy car. Shown at recent auto shows, it uses center stack controls inspired by the design of cell phones. It will be powered by a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine with an optional dual-clutch transmission, and it is projected to get 40 mpg on the highway.

In its announcement, Ford notes that AppLink will be downloadable, suggesting that it will become available after the Fiesta already launches. Fiesta owners will be able to upgrade Sync in their cars with the new AppLink software. Sync provides MP3 player and Bluetooth phone integration, along with a host of server-side services, including navigation.

Ford will eventually roll out AppLink to all of its other Sync-equipped cars. Other apps will also become available as developers make them compatible with Sync.

As for iPhone compatibility, according to Ford, it will become available next year.