Image: Ford

Waze, said to be the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app, is now available via iPhone and AppLink in Ford vehicles equipped with the SYNC 3 communications system. The app can be projected directly onto the in-dash screen and controlled using voice commands.

Users can download the Waze app and need only then to connect their iPhone to their car’s USB port. Don Butler, Ford’s executive director, connected vehicle platform and product, said in a statement: “Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to access the smartphone features, apps and services they care about most in the car, without having to pick up their device. With Waze, our customers get the benefits they’re accustomed to with the added luxury of experiencing them on a bigger screen.”

Butler added: “We know that people enjoy a range of navigation apps to help them reach their destination safely and more efficiently, and have worked closely to make this happen. With the SYNC 3 AppLink platform, drivers can access their favourite apps safely and seamlessly while keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.”

As well as navigating drivers on routes optimized for real-time traffic flow, Waze – which has some 100 million active users – allows drivers to report and share data on congestion, accidents, hazards and fuel prices, and can guide specifically along carpool or high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. It is offered in addition to Sygic navigation app on the AppLink platform; other new apps to be available soon to European customers will include Acast for mobile audio-on-demand podcasts; BPme, for locating BP fuel stations and paying for fuel in-car; Radioplayer for streaming radio shows and podcasts; and Cisco WebEX, for voice-controlled participation in remote meetings.

Growing trend for third-party integration

The integration of third-party apps is a growing trend as carmakers seek to bring familiar and popular services and digital tools into the automotive environment, both via device plug-in and embedded in-car platforms.

At the recent Google I/O developer conference, Google announced that its Android Automotive embedded operating system – to be offered in Volvo and Audi vehicles by 2019 – is to offer Google Play Store, Google Assistant and Google Maps. Apps on offer from Google Play will include Pandora, Spotify, WhatsApp, iHeartRadio, Google Play Music and more.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s Alexa virtual personal assistant continues to join more suites of services: it is now integrated into Skoda Connect, available in Octavia, Karoq, Superb and Kodiaq models. Skoda owners need only to update an Alexa-enabled device with the new Skoda Connect ‘Alexa Skill’ to connect their car with their account. Commanded by voice controls, Alexa can check vehicle information and status details such as fuel level and remaining tank range, where the car is parked, whether its lights have been left on, average speed of last journey and average fuel consumption. More functionalities will be added in future.

-Farah Alkhalisi