Today In Tech: Ford Launches HD Radio And iTunes Tagging

December 29, 2009

Digital radios are much like the standard sets that many people have in their cars today, except they offer access to free, crystal-clear, digital programming that's hidden from analog units. iBiquity's digital HD Radio sets have been around for a few years now, working to make up market share lost to subscription services like Sirius, but they haven't made their way into new vehicles -- until now. Next year, Ford will be the first automaker to provide HD Radio sets as a factory-installed option, and via Ford Sync, the units will offer iTunes Tagging capability -- that is, the ability for owners to press a button when they hear a song they like and tag the song for later purchase from iTunes. Music buffs and Appleheads, rejoice (and skim though the full press release below).

Ford first to enable iTunes song tagging with launch of new HD radio capability in its lineup

· Ford is the first auto manufacturer to offer HD Radio™ technology with iTunes® Tagging capability; this new functionality will be available next year

· HD Radio technology captures free digital radio broadcasts, which eliminate static, fadeout and other problems associated with conventional analog radio signals; the result is FM audio that’s comparable to near-CD quality and AM audio that sounds like today’s FM broadcasts

· HD Radio digital technology provides a number of advanced services not available with an analog radio. Extra FM channels, called HD2/HD3 channels, are delivered, as well as useful on-screen Program Service Data such as artist name and song title

DEARBORN,Mich., Dec. 29, 2009 – iTunes Tagging and crystal-clear radio sound through HD Radio technology are the latest features on Ford’s growing list of factory-installed customer conveniences 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, making it convenient for customers to select songs they want to download and purchase.

“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. “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 familiar 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 technology.

Like the song? You can tag it

The world’s first implementation of iTunes Tagging in a factory-installed HD Radio receiver 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 on SYNC can be stored until the iPod is connected. 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.

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