Ford unveils a new live Operator component to SYNC, as HARMAN embraces the Android Open Accessory Protocol

Ford unveils a new live Operator component to SYNC, as HARMAN embraces the Android Open Accessory Protocol

In this week’s Brief: HARMAN, Interchain, Ford, Enterprise Fleet Management, Sprint, TomTom, Mappy, ALK Technologies, and Pandora

HARMAN adopted the Android Open Accessory Protocol, making it the first major technology partner in the automotive industry to offer the new connectivity standard. With the Android protocol built into HARMAN’s automotive offerings, users can control smartphone or tablet content like music, movies, or navigation apps through a car’s dashboard or steering-wheel controls. The Android protocol is supported across all HARMAN infotainment platforms, so it can be used in entry-level, mid-priced, and luxury automobiles. It is available now for automotive installations and extends the Android email and SMS support previously launched by HARMAN. “Consumers no longer view their living room, workplace, and personal devices as separate domains,” says HARMAN chief executive Dinesh Paliwal. “Connectivity is fast becoming a fundamental expectation and lifestyle requirement, (and) consumers want to connect simply and safely in their cars.”

Interchain unveiled a new low-cost infotainment suite called GWVectra for in-dash and rear seat entertainment applications. The android-based solution provides the capability to share connectivity, content, preferences, and data with smartphones, laptops and PMP devices like the iPod. The GWVectra design responds to natural communication including gestures, touch, and speech. The hardware component of the solution works on OEMs’ devices of choice, and the software suite is customizable so OEMs can go to market as expeditiously as possible.

Ford launched a new feature for Ford SYNC called Operator Assist. Drivers can access the cloud-based aid by voice command and instantly connect with a live person to get directions or find businesses. Seventy percent of all SYNC Services calls are for business search and directions. Operator Assist is currently in a beta test trial phase and being offered as a complimentary feature for registered users of SYNC Services. No additional software or hardware is needed.

Enterprise Fleet Management partnered with Sprint to enhance the Mobile Resource Manager (MRM), a web-based M2M solution that provides companies real-time visibility into the locations and activities of their mobile resources. Sprint will use 3G wireless network connectivity between MRM units and a Web interface to create real-time monitoring of any job status. Jobs will be dispatched directly to MRM units, and drivers can communicate directly with fleet managers.

TomTom announced a multiyear agreement with Mappy, the European location-based services provider. Under the partnership, TomTom will provide accurate, high-quality maps and dynamic traffic information to power Mappy's online mapping portal.  TomTom's Enterprise Traffic product will provide Mappy users access to precise, up-to-date traffic information for highways, major roads, and secondary roads. Mappy also plans to use TomTom Speed Profiles to improve its mapping and routing experience via its online web portal.

TomTom integrated Highways Agency traffic data into TomTom HD Traffic, its traffic information service. The Highways Agency manages a 4,300-mile network of motorways and collects data from sophisticated monitoring equipment built into the road surface, reinforced by roadside technology. TomTom will combine the traffic flow data with incident reports collated by the Agency's National Traffic Control Centre to provide drivers with the most accurate live traffic information for England's motorways and major A roads.

ALK Technologies launched its new generation satellite navigation app, CoPilot Live Premium, on iTunes. The app includes features like Personal Routes, which helps drivers find the best way to a destination via preferred roads; Social Navigation, which lets drivers shrae journey details via in-app Twitter updates; and a Walking Mode with a digital compass to support on-foot navigation. The app is available at an introductory 50 percent discount for the first sevent days, with a UK + Ireland maps version costing £14.99 for unlimited use. A European maps version is available for £29.99.

Pandora increased its automotive footprint by expanding existing relationships with Scion and Ford. The Pandora service will now be available in 10 Ford vehicles and two Lincoln vehicles. Pandora currently has in-vehicle integrations with BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and MINI in addition to Scion and Ford. The company announced that Buick, Chevrolet, GMC, Hyundai, and Toyota all have plans underway to integrate the popular personalized radio service. “Nearly 50 percent of radio consumption happens in the car, so it's a natural venue for Pandora,” says executive vice president of business development Jessica Steel. “We want to make the experience as easy in the car as it is at home, at the office, and on a mobile phone.”


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