Ford has announced that they will be expanding their Sync AppLink software program to an additional ten models for the 2012 new vehicle line up, as well as significantly increasing their development team for the Sync over the next four years. Ford’s Sync infotainment system, first introduced on the 2011 Fiesta, has become popular amongst drivers who demand communication and internet mobility hands free through their smartphones. According to Doug VanDagens, director of Ford’s Connected Services Solutions, the number of apps for the Sync has grown over 150% in the last six months and developers have shown much interest in working with Ford to develop their apps to work with Sync. It is important to develop the Sync system to keep up with the demands of the customer while allowing for easy upgrades in app development.

The Sync AppLink will be available in the 2012 Ford Fusion, Fusion hybrid, Fiesta, F-150, F-150 SVT Raptor, Super Duty, Expedition, E-Series, Shelby GT500 and Mustang. Ford also said it will expand the availability of rear seat inflatable seat belts to three additional vehicles beginning next summer. They will now be made available on the 2012 Ford Flex as well as the Lincoln MKT and MKZ.

Chevy MyLink infotainment systemRivalry to the Ford Sync and the Kia UVO, the Chey Mylink will be featured on the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox and the extended range electric Volt. The new infotainment system will offer many features similar to the popular Ford Sync, such as voice activated music and remote car control functions. The system will work with OnStar, allowing users to download maps and directions to the touch screen. GM hopes to eventually expand MyLink to its entire global lineup with Buick, Cadillac and GMC expected later this year, according to Micky Bly, executive director of electrical systems, hybrids, electric vehicles and batteries for GM.

Even after all the talk about distracted drivers and products developed to make less distractions, Intel and Google are hoping to bring your desktop to the dashboard. At the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, they displayed 10 inch screens above the gearshift displaying high definition videos, 3-D maps and web pages. These “infotainment systems” will hit the market this year and are likely to become standard equipment in a wide range of auto’s before long. They prevent drivers from watching video and using some other functions while the car is moving, but they can still pull up content as varied as restaurant reviews and the covers of music albums with the tap of a finger.

Nicholas A. Ashford, a professor of technology and policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says “This is irresponsible at best and pernicious at worst. Unfortunately and sadly, it is a continuation of the pursuit of profit over safety — for both drivers and pedestrians.” The technology and car companies say that safety remains a priority.