Although texting, tweeting, and even handling your cell phone while driving can be unsafe, and is even illegal in many states, the addition of social media controls on Ford’s Sync AppLink connectivity system could be what’s necessary for safely and legally managing our social accounts while driving.
The app Meople.Connector is behind the new controls that allow Ford drivers to manage their social media accounts on (so far) Twitter, LinkedIn, and the Russian-language network VK (formerly VKontakte). The app, for iOS or Android, alerts you of a message, and using voice commands allows you to read, respond to, or skip the message. If you choose to respond, predetermined customizable messages are available. You can also select how often you want to receive updates, and if you need to, share your location via the app’s settings.
The Sync AppLink System already covers a broad range of useful voice-activated services such as Pandora, NPR News, Roald Dahl Audiobooks, Cityseeker, and SYNC Destinations. In a Computer Weekly article, Don Butler, executive director at Ford, says, “For many people today, social media is fundamental to staying up-to-date and informed. By adding further news and personal communications, we are helping to ensure customers can stay seamlessly connected throughout their day in a safe and stress-free way.”
The ability to communicate and socialize safely and legally is increasingly becoming a feature important to drivers. According to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2015, online and social media resources are the primary news source for 43 percent of people in the U.S. In a study by GlobalWebIndex earlier this year, 41 percent use social media simply to fill up spare time. With average commute times in the country ranging from 45 minutes to over an hour, it seems that one of the best times to catch up with the news or just fill spare time could be while we are behind the wheel. This isn’t the first time Ford has built some sort of Twitter support into its Sync system, but it’s the first time that drivers will have two-way voice interaction with the social network, instead of just passively listening to the latest tweets.