Ahead of their CES 2015 press conference tomorrow morning, Ford have announced the Life 360 app will come to their vehicles via SYNC AppLink. Life360 understands that modern families (and friends) want to stat connected with each other as they go about their lives out in the world. With AppLink, they’re enabling users to connect to each other while on the road.
The service introduces new features to help drivers focus on the road and stay connected, something we all want, but it has to be done safely. The all-new Drive Mode feature will send texts to people in your group to let them know you’re driving. It’s like a pro-active out of office assistant.
Ford will be the first automaker to offer in-car use of the popular family locator app Life360 with Drive Mode.
“Responsible driving habits are top priorities at Ford Motor Company, and we are pleased to be working with Life360 to help reduce driver distractions,” said Julius Marchwicki, Ford Connected Services Product manager. “With the integration of Life360 Drive Mode, we are helping to keep drivers’ attention on the road by letting their loved ones know that they are behind the wheel, encouraging family members and friends to hold off on sending texts.”
Life360 is a free smartphone app that helps family members and close friends stay in touch throughout their busy day. Users can see where their circle of family and friends are on a private map, stay connected through one-to-one or group messages, and get help in an emergency. Life360 launched in 2008, and there are now 48 million families worldwide using the app, which has been retooled to include Drive Mode for Ford SYNC AppLink equipped vehicles.
The AppLink-enabled Life360 app goes to work when the driver connects his or her smartphone to Ford SYNC via Bluetooth. The connection tells the app when the smartphone is in the car, which prompts the Drive Mode feature to send a message to everyone in the driver’s Life360 circle suggesting they not text the driver. A follow-up message is sent once the driver arrives at his or her destination and turns off the car.
Drivers can also check the latest location of family members through the SYNC display or with voice commands. By saying, “Mum’s location,” or asking “Where is Dave?” the system pinpoints the person’s location on a map and offers a location address.
Ford and Life360 will demonstrate the app at the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas, Jan. 7-10. Drive Mode will be available initially for Android phones by spring.
“We are thrilled to be working with Ford to take on such an important issue and help reduce texting and driving,” said Chris Hulls, co-founder and CEO, Life360. “Keeping families connected is one of our core tenets, and we’re proud our technology can also help play a key role in promoting distraction-free driving.”
With launch of SYNC 3, Ford’s next-generation communications and entertainment system, AppLink will automatically discover and load the Life360 app onto the in-vehicle screen.
SYNC is already on the road in more than 10 million vehicles worldwide. Ford encourages customers to only use mobile phones and other devices, even with voice commands, when it is safe to do so.
Of course those who own a Windows Phone will be very familiar with the Drive Mode feature. Microsoft’s implementation allows the phone owner to define a list of people who can break through and what threshold of calls / minutes has to be reached before a disrupting call is allowed through to the driver.