For the past few years, car companies have jumped on the digital media bandwagon, offering USB ports to load music from your iPod Touch and Bluetooth streaming audio to play tracks right from your iPhone. Now, new music technology is emerging that goes a step further — letting you play music from Pandora Radio or over a very high-speed wireless network.
Acura Song by Voice
Giving Ford Sync a run for its money, the Song by Voice feature in the latest Acura MDX and ZDX models lets you choose songs by speaking. You press the Talk button and say “iPod Search” or “HDD Search” and then name the artist, album, track, genre, or composer. The system uses a phonetic library with as many as 2000 entries, so you can say “Springsteen” and it will know you mean The Boss.
LTE Connected Car
A proof-of-concept announced last year, the LTE Connected Car shows how the future of music tech in cars will work. The car uses the LTE (Long Term Evolution) wireless broadband network to stream audio at up to 300MBps in high-fidelity directly to the car. This “cloud-based radio” means access to every artist and album with no need for local storage. Verizon will be making LTE available in about 30 cities this November and plans to cover all major cities by 2013.
Ford Sync AppLink
One of the most remarkable new music technologies across any car brand, the AppLink service for the new Ford Fiesta, which will roll out to other Ford and Lincoln cars soon, plays a music stream off your smartphone. This means you can play Pandora radio stations or a stream from any radio station that also broadcasts over the Web. To use AppLink, you connect over Bluetooth, then run an app designed for Ford Sync. The car LCD shows you the options available for selecting the music. You can even use the radio presets on the Fiesta as a button you press to access that Web station.
Also check out our in-depth coverage of the MyFord Touch in-dash technology.