Growing tired of "Call Me Maybe" after the 134th play on your local radio station? Ford and Mazda are releasing two new applications that could help replace your FM station's obnoxious, repetitive DJs with your smartphone.
iPhones, Androids, and Blackberries have long had the ability to play music either from internal memory or the internet through car stereos through auxiliary inputs or Bluetooth audio, but the process has room for improvement. In many cars, changing the track still requires the driver to pick up his/her phone, which is also a ticketable offense in many states. The advent of streaming services like Spotify have made it easier to stream almost any track on the go, but searching for said music requires typing--again, something that's illegal and/ or extremely unsafe to do while behind the wheel.
Ford's solution to the predicament was Sync, the voice-activated infotainment system that allows a user to plug in his/her phone and search his/her music library (on a flash drive, MP3 player, or smartphone) with voice commands. Sync now goes one step further: Ford has integrated it with MOG, the online streaming music service. Drivers can now voice activate their music files as well as the music they have stored in the cloud. For example: if you're in the mood for some Ben Folds, you can voice activate Mog, which will play a random selection of his songs. The system, which works through Ford Sync AppLink, also allows voice activated access for pre-made playlists, or curated lists like the Billboard Top 100.
Mazda's solution is somewhat similar: it'll include Pandora internet radio in the dashboard of some of its models. The system would connect to a smartphone with the Pandora application downloaded (via Bluetooth) and allow the user to scroll through a list of saved stations, flip through tracks, and thumbs up/thumbs down a track, right from the in-dash system. While Mazda hasn't released any details about the upcoming feature--nor any mention of which cars would get the feature--we'd imagine that the feature will arrive on systems like that in the 2013 CX-5 and work something like the in-dash Pandora system in the 2013 Hyundai Veloster.
Ford's system works through Sync AppLink (just like the other services, including NPR News and Pandora), so you'll have to have a Sync-equipped car to use the feature, and not one with MyFord or MyLincoln Touch--those systems don't appear to have AppLink available.
Sources: Pandora, Ford