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RIM Working with Ford to Integrate BlackBerry Devices and Ford Sync

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Ford Sync is a factory-installed, in-car communications and entertainment system developed by Ford and Microsoft. It is based on the Microsoft Auto platform. The technology is currently being updated with some features that directly involve Research in Motion. Ford Sync has a text message readback feature that allows customers to hear text messages without having to take their eyes off the road. In addition to this service, Ford is has integrated the latest Bluetooth Message Access Profile (MAP) into SYNC for all MyFord Touch-equipped vehicles. The MAP standard outlines a set of features and procedures used to exchange email, SMS, and MMS messages between devices. With MAP technology, even more phones will work with SYNC to read aloud incoming texts.

In addition, Research In Motion is already working with Ford to implement MAP on BlackBerry smartphones and enable SYNC audible text messaging capability across their product line, in an effort to foster industry-wide adoption.

Recently, we reported about the Ford Fiesta’s ability to read tweets in-car and this seems to be part of a wider initiative to integrate cars and BlackBerrys.

VQ Mileage Tracker Updated with Auto-Report and More

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VQ Mileage Tracker is a highly copied and much liked BlackBerry app that automatically tracks your business mileage. The app now features the ability to automatically email users a mileage report every week, month or quarter. VQ uses a BlackBerry’s GPS along with in-vehicle Bluetooth to automatically determine when the user starts and ends a trip. Owners of vehicles without built-in Bluetooth can purchase a VQ Bluetooth Car Charger (a car charger that also simulates in-vehicle Bluetooth) or they can use the app in semi-automatic mode.
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AAA Revamp Mobile Website and Launch GPS Location Service on Sprint

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AAA have launched a couple of new services that are relevant to BlackBerry users including a revamped mobile site and a GPS service for automatic location detection called FindMe for Sprint customers. From the new mobile site, aaa.mobi, you can view AAA TourBook guide information, find the locations of AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities, Show Your Card and Save retailers and AAA branches offices as well as get driving directions with routing maps.

All newer BlackBerry models with GPS are compatible with the AAA FindMe GPS service. There is no application to download and all you have to do is register your phone number and AAA member number in advance at AAA.com/AAAFindMe. When you place a call for roadside assistance, your GPS location is sent directly to AAA.

BMW and RIM Work to Get BlackBerry Email, Contacts and SMS on iDrive

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I still have a bit of a WES-over and there’s a few cool tidbits from the show to be blogged such as BMW’s iDrive and BlackBerry integration. BlackBerry can now send emails and contacts to the BMW’s iDrive dash system, in order to give the user quick access to the messages in case something important is going down. Safety is of the utmost importance, and BMW have addressed this by not fully displaying the email on the dash. In order to access the email, the user must use text-to-speech. There is a great video of the BlackBerry iDrive system from PhoneScoop after the jump.
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Ford Fiesta 2011 to Launch with SYNC AppLink for BlackBerry

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Ford will be launching their Fiesta 2011 line with a new in-car infotainment system called SYNC AppLink. The software will allow for hands-free voice control over BlackBerry and Android apps including Pandora, Stitcher and the Twitter app OpenBeak.

While tweeting from your car might seem dangerous, there is some potential to use Twitter in a way that would make driving safer. For example, we previously wrote about a group in Venezuela that use Twitter to warn others about potholes and traffic conditions. It would be interesting to see a driver using Twitter in their car for a similar purpose.

SYNC is coming to BlackBerry first, which is also something we’re not used to seeing. Perhaps the acquisition of QNX might have some interesting implications here.

RIM Acquire Automotive Infotainment Company QNX Software

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RIM just announced their acquisition of QNX Software, a company specializing in in-car infotainment. To get a better idea of what they do, just watch the above YouTube clip. In the product demo, they use an iPhone, but I guess that will be changing soon enough. If this acquisition is a means to get more connectivity with a BlackBerry and a car, then we should be seeing some interesting new software. Currently, RIM’s automotive offerings extend to the Visor Mount and some other Bluetooth accessories, but the major integration is through third parties. Given many states and countries are now implementing hands-free laws, this might also have influenced RIM’s decisions.

Read the press release here.