Fiddling with smart-phone apps while driving has historically been right up there with peeing on electric fences in the evolutionary stakes -- until now. Ford's just announced AppLink -- an upgrade to its Sync in-car infotainment system -- which lets drivers access smart-phone apps using voice control.
AppLink, an app in itself, can be downloaded directly to a car's Sync operating system. Once installed, it allows users to control Sync-enabled smart phone apps downloaded from the Android or BlackBerry app stores, through the car's touchscreen interface or via the application's built-in voice command feature.
Currently, the list of compatible apps is minuscule, but it already includes some fairly useful software. At launch, you'll be able to access Stitcher smart radio, which lets you link your favourite podcast and radio shows into personalised stations, and Orangetame's Openbeak, which lets you access Twitter on the move. US drivers will also get Pandora Internet radio, which isn't available here.
With a bit of luck, more applications will be available in the near future. Ford's opened up a developer programme known as the Mobile Application Developer Network, designed to encourage coders to create new Sync-enabled applications or at the very least update their existing ones with Sync functionality.
The bad news is that right now, Sync is only available on American vehicles such as the Ford Fiesta. In the UK we'll have to wait until later in 2010 for the system to be added to our cars. If you can't wait until then, then you might want to take a look at a similar Microsoft system, known as Blue&Me, which is currently being installed in cars such as the Fiat 500 and Alfa Romeo MiTo.