Bad parking job? Text the driver through the license plate

Trying to find parking in San Francisco sometimes feels likes a car-based version of "Survivor." It's not pretty. Cars block driveways, drivers forget to curb their wheels, lights get left on, and meters run out. These are all reasons why you might want to contact a vehicle's owner. If everyone in San Francisco signed up for CurbTXT, then it would be easy to get in touch.

Drivers can sign up for CurbTXT by registering their license plates and phone numbers. A sticker on the car gives people an anonymous way to contact the driver through text … Read more

Crave giveaway: Tablet that's ready for a Ford Sync hookup

First off, congrats to Bhakti C. of Sugar Land, Texas, for winning a "Retroreflective Scarf" from geek designer Diana Eng in last week's giveaway. Now, for this week's prize...

Our giveaway sponsor, Ford, is offering a free 64GB tablet or similar that works with its Ford Sync technology. The in-vehicle connectivity system lets you hook up your favorite smartphone (or one of a number of tablets and e-readers) to your car and access its various functionalities through voice commands while driving. Find and play tunes, podcasts, and audio books and just generally stay full-on tablet-entertained on … Read more

Ford, GM, open up to developers at CES 2013

LAS VEGAS--Ford and GM both surprised the automotive and technology worlds by announcing developer programs for their in-car software platforms, essentially replicating the ecosystem of the smartphone on the dashboard. The two launched Web sites with nearly identical URLs, and, to support independent development of apps for their cars.

Ford already boasts about 20 apps integrated with its Sync AppLink system, with nine new apps announced at the show. GM is behind in the dashboard app game, but the open development program should give it a jumpstart.

The programs are designed to encourage developers … Read more

Porsche gets online search, entertainment at CES 2013

LAS VEGAS--A bright-red Cayenne GTS parked at CES 2013 showcased Porsche's newly announced integration with Aha, an online service combining channels for radio stations, Slacker, audiobooks, podcasts, and other Internet-based content. And in a first for both Aha and Porsche, the system adds Google local search.

Drivers will need to load the Aha app on their smartphones and create an account, after which they can browse through Aha's collection of 30,000 channels, adding them to a favorites list. Hooking the phone up to a Porsche equipped with the Aha Online Services option, drivers will be able to … Read more

Turn your mobile devices into a walkie talkie

Walkie talkies have been around since before cell phones, but until now they weren't easily accessible on the same device. Sometimes when you need to send out a quick message, making a phone call can be time-consuming (especially if you don't have the time to chat), and sending out a text message can be a hassle. Typing out those longs strings of letters and hitting 'send' is a huge pain when you're juggling five things at once. That's where these apps come in. Voice messaging finds a happy middle ground between the solemn phone call and … Read more

Next-gen Chevy MyLink employs smartphone flexibility

LAS VEGAS--Cabin tech interfaces receive a lot of criticism for being clunky, ugly, and slow, but Chevrolet may have cracked the code by copying the smartphone. The newest generation of the MyLink infotainment system runs smoothly and employs icons that look, and can be rearranged, like those on a smartphone.

Similar to an iPhone, drivers of the new Impala will be able to put the interface into edit mode, and move icons around on the touch screen. The icons cover everything from navigation to phone to apps such as Pandora. To make the system better suited to cars, there are … Read more

SuperTooth touts in-car call quality with HD Voice

LAS VEGAS--Almost every new car comes with a Bluetooth hands-free phone system, but SuperTooth believes there is still room for a Bluetooth speakerphone car kit, as evidenced by its launch of the HD Voice at CES 2013. And with the HD Voice's advanced features, SuperTooth may be right.

A spokesperson for SuperTooth suggested the call quality was so good, the HD Voice would be preferable to use in cars over the native hands-free phone system. A bold claim, but the HD Voice does come with two microphones and two speakers, hardware that will not only enhance call quality, but … Read more

GM opening cars up for app development

LAS VEGAS--On the same day that Ford announced its Sync AppLink developer program, GM came out with its own take, announcing it would make APIs and other resources available so developers can build apps for the car.

GM announced a new Web site,, where developers will be able to download the SDK for its new app framework. It also demonstrated integration with iHeart Radio, TuneIn, Slacker, and The Weather Channel on the new framework.

GM plans on offering the new framework in some 2014 model year vehicles, which could come out as early as this summer. … Read more

Ford invites competitors to use its app integration tech

LAS VEGAS--At the start of Ford's press conference at CES 2013, Wired published a story saying the automaker would offer up its Sync AppLink technology for free to the competition. Doug VanDagens, Ford's director of connected services, who spoke during the press conference, is quoted by Wired, confirming the story.

Sync AppLink is Ford's name for the technology that supports app integration in its cars. It lets a driver load an app on a smartphone, then control it through the car's voice command and dashboard buttons, while listening to the audio output through the car's … Read more

Aha finds a home in Porsche, Ford, and Chrysler

LAS VEGAS--One of the most successful services at CES 2013 would seem to be Aha, which added Porsche, Ford, and Chrysler as partners. Harman, Aha's parent company, boasts the service will be available in cars from more than 10 automakers.

Aha offers 30,000 Internet-based stations in its lineup, from music to podcasts to news. It includes audio-based location search services for restaurants and coffee shops. Users can listen to Facebook and Twitter updates from their personal accounts. Aha is also available through the Aha Radio app for iOS and Android.

Ford has added Aha to its roster of … Read more