You’ve listened to NPR  in the car before, but not like this. The NPR News App for Ford SYNC offers the variety, choice, and flexibility of our smart phone app in your car. With simple voice commands or steering wheel controls, now you’re in the driver’s seat, able to customize your public radio listening experience, wherever you go.


Why was in-vehicle integration important to your company?
NPR has a mission to create a more informed public by employing every available platform of communication as our medium. As a radio company with a large drive-time audience, we are especially interested in making it easier for drivers to find and access our audio content while on the move.

How did you decide what features to extend to Ford owners through AppLink?
We focused on building a localized experience that is as simple as turning on the radio, but also offers easy navigation to the audio content that is most popular in our mobile apps, including access to live streams and our program archive.

How did SYNC voice command impact your development approach?
If the driver initiates a voice command, we prompt them with the Sync voice to help guide them and suggest commands. We also provide a cheat-sheet of common commands on the lock screen to help users familiarize themselves with the app before they leave the driveway.

What type of resource allocation did AppLink enablement require?
We dedicated a designer, product owner, and iOS developer for 3-4 months, with intermittent support throughout the fleet testing process. We also set aside a communications budget to help raise awareness of the app and our partnership with Ford.

How did the AppLink development experience differ with that of other OEM efforts (if applicable to you)?
Ford was our first experience with a car company, and we found that the AppLink team was extremely responsive and accessible. Whenever we ran into trouble, they were there with a helping hand. It was certainly one of the best development partnerships we’ve ever experienced at NPR.

Was the testing process for an automotive adaptation of your mobile app similar or different from others you experienced (if so, how)?
Testing on Ford was greatly simplified by their loaner TDK, which allowed us to test the apps in real time with our onsite developers. Ford was also very helpful in locating test vehicles in our area, and they matched our QA time hour for hour with their internal engineers.

Did the testing process highlight any usability issues you may not of been aware of previously?
Yes. The testing process allowed us to refine our user flow in the car, and we made several functional improvements in the first stage of bench testing.

Are you exploring any additional AppLink features based on your experience thus far?
Yes. We plan to launch a design phase soon to take advantage of the anticipated feature set in the MyFord Touch / AppLink integration, and perhaps even more importantly, we are already working on the logistics, licensing and interface issues involved in launching an international version of our app as AppLink goes worldwide.

What type of additional in-vehicle capabilities would you like to see become available for developers?
Probably the most important thing would be true, natural language voice recognition. The future of on demand, non-distracted media consumption in the car depends on two-way, conversational voice interaction between driver and system combined with simple, intuitive in-dash or heads-up displays that provide important details and status.

Any message, story, or information you would like to share with the Ford Dev community and potential AppLink developers?
Ford was an early innovator in connected cars and continues to be a prominent leader in the space. Now the company is opening up its proprietary system to GENIVI, providing leadership toward open standards and technologies across automakers and content providers alike.