Under pressure from the likes of GM and Toyota, Ford has decided to expand its Sync technology, which allows drivers of the new Ford Focus to use hands-free calling, voice directions and traffic alerts.
The system also links up with music and other accessories such as a mobile phone. The Sync system includes a music search option and audible text messages.
However, Ford has also released a software development kit allowing designers the chance to create in-car apps for the Sync system.
The expanded team at Ford will now be used to design more accurate voice recognition software to understand more natural speech inside the car.
Despite the system already recognising 10,000 commands, Ford wants the Sync system to recognise more than a set list of phrases to improve the usability of the system.
The technology is available in a string of US models and includes a network of movie listings and travel information such as airlines, hotels and car rental companies.
However, Sync is included in the new 2011 Ford Focus in the UK and the expansion of the in-car app team signifies Ford’s intent to expand the system into more Ford cars in future.
These could include the likes of the compact Ford B-Max MPV or the new Ford Vertrek, the potential replacement for the Ford Kuga SUV.
The new Ford Focus, complete with Sync technology, is on sale now in the UK with a choice of petrol and diesel engines and four trim levels; Edge, Zetec, Titanium and Titanium X.
Prices for the new Ford Focus start from £16,000 for entry-level models, rising to over £21,000 for range-topping Titanium X specification models.