Ford first vehicle maker to offer iTunes Tagging and HD Radio capability in 2010

New iPod nano - NOW shoots videoiTunes Tagging and crystal-clear radio sound through HD Radio technology are the latest features on Ford’s growing list of factory-installed options and technologies that will be newly available in 2010. HD Radio receivers pull in digital radio signals and play them with dramatically improved sound. FM stations, for example, have near-CD quality.

“iTunes Tagging and HD Radio technology are strong new additions to the growing collection of Ford convenience features and technology we’re offering customers to make driving even more enjoyable,” said Mark Fields, president of The Americas, in the press release. “This is another example of Ford’s commitment to bring the widest variety of factory-installed customer-focused technology, features and conveniences to millions of people.”

In 2010, Ford vehicles will offer terrestrial radio, HD Radio technology, SIRIUS Satellite Radio as well as Internet radio through Ford SYNC from a Bluetooth-streaming audio-capable smartphone.

“Ford continues to lead the market in bringing advanced capabilities to popular vehicles. We are very pleased that HD Radio technology is an integral part of Ford’s broad offering of new features,” said Jeff Jury, COO of iBiquity Digital Corporation, the developer of HD Radio technolog, in the press release.

The world’s first implementation of iTunes Tagging in a factory-installed HD Radioreceiver will launch in 2010 on select Ford vehicles. Through the SYNC system, iTunes Tagging will provide Ford customers with the ability to capture a song they hear on the HD Radio receiver for later purchase. With a simple push of the “TAG” button on the radio display, the song information will be stored in the radio’s memory.

Up to 100 tags can be stored on SYNC until the iPod is connected to receive the download of metadata. When the iPod is then synced to iTunes, a playlist of “tagged” songs will appear. Customers then can preview and, if desired, purchase and download tagged songs from the iTunes Store.

All HD Radio-enabled receivers in Ford vehicles also will provide Program Service Data – information that appears on the radio screen and includes song title, artist name and more.

HD Radio technology enables more listening options and increased sound quality by using the same radio interface customers are used to as well as the same antennas and analog tuners with an added digital decoder inside the radio. Additionally, HD Radio-enabled receivers provide listeners with unique advanced services.

To operate, there’s no difference from today’s radio operations – customers just tune in their favorite stations. If the station is broadcasting with HD Radio technology, the system automatically picks up the signal and will transition to digital audio once decoded.

Exclusive to HD Radio receivers are HD2/HD3 channels, which resemble mini-stations that could be spun off the “mother” station or completely new content for the local market. HD2/HD3 channels are found directly adjacent to the main (HD1) channel on the dial if available. If additional HD2/HD3 channels are available, the radio will indicate how many on a multicast information bar. Users may tune up to the new available channels like they would tune to any other analog station. Users also may store HD2/HD3 presets, just as they do with today’s radio.

One significant benefit of HD Radio technology is that the sound quality of the broadcast is dramatically better because of the digital transmission – FM sounds like a CD and AM sounds like terrestrial FM broadcasts. Also, the sound itself is much clearer and more consistent; unlike analog broadcasts, digital broadcasts aren’t susceptible to interference, fadeout and other issues.

Most stations use the additional HD2/HD3 channels to provide more unique coverage of sports, music or other niche programs often tailored for their individual markets – all for free. For example, in Dallas there is now a dedicated 24/7 Cowboys channel on 105.3-HD3. In Pittsburgh, there is a dedicated 24/7 Penguins channel on 105.9-HD2. Broadcasters may choose any genre they wish for their additional channels.

Nearly 2,000 radio stations in the U.S. currently broadcast in digital HD Radio sound, with more than 1,100 stations also airing HD2/HD3 channels. Approximately 85 percent of the U.S. population is currently served by a station broadcasting with HD Radio technology.

Source: Ford Motor Company

16 Comments

  1. A few years ago I looked at buying a new Ford but their audio system was Microsoft based. I quickly walked away and bought a more iPod friendly Audi.

    Anyone know who makes this SYNC thing? Did Ford break their ties with the greedy incompetents up in Redmond?

  2. As much as I Hate Microsoft, I do give them credit for this. The Sync system is one Microsoft designed systems that works quite well. I’ve tried it a few times in Rentals and I enjoy it. Plus The Sony sound system Ford has pairs to most sync systems is decent as well.

    But as Sir Gill Bates says,
    I also get that queasy feeling when Microsoft is mentioned in Ford Commercials.

    @Cleetus
    I won’t walk away from a car just because Microsoft has something to do with the Entertainment system of a car. If it works well, then why not. The Sync system is very iPod Friendly. You plug in your iPod and you can choose whatever song, Band, Genre, etc you want just by talking to the system.

  3. I sense Ford is realizing that using the word “Microsoft” in connection with their vehicles is like rubbing dog shit all over a new Ford in the showroom. Please just tend to stay away.

    The above news release from Ford calls it “Ford SYNC”. That is the first time I’ve heard that term. Like others, Ford SYNC, doesn’t make me feel queezy like Microsoft SYNC does.

  4. Long ago I ruled out Ford as a vehicle choice because they had started installing M$ Stync.

    Early 09 I ruled out Chevy and Dodge because they took Gov $$$ and the UAW got another handout (no incentive to improve anywhere). Not to mention that the Gov played fast/loose with Bankruptcy Laws.

    I’ve been considering Mazda or VW (I like the clean Diesel).

    Now I may reconsider Ford since the Stync seems to work well with ipod and I like HDRadio tagging.

  5. I’ve driven many Ford vehicles with Sync, and I’ve always been impressed at how un-microsoft-like it behaves. My iphone pairs easily, calls are crisp and easy to hear, and music plays without fuss. And all of this without reading the manual. Whether it’s been the simple Sync system in the Focus, or the touch-screen based system in the Flex, I’m a big fan of Sync.

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