• Jan 7, 2007


UPDATE: The above video does a much better job of showing you what Sync does than we do explaining it.

Microsoft and Ford have teamed to produce Ford Sync, a new in-car system that offers comprehensive, seamless integration with Bluetooth-enabled phones and a variety of digital music players. A USB port in the car accepts a variety of music players including the ubiquitious iPod, the Zune (surely you didn't think Microsoft would leave out their new toy), PlaysForSure devices, and many USB mass-storage units. Formats supported include MPC, AAC, WMA, WAV and PCM. As the market evolves and new formats are introduced, support for them will be a software upgrade away.

The Bluetooth connection will automatically import your cell phone's address book to the Ford Sync, which will allow the driver to make handsfree calls using voice commands. It also allows drivers to stay on a call they began outside the car by pressing a wheel-mounted button that activates Ford Sync's Bluetooth connection. For supported phones, personalization features such as custom and caller-specific ringtones will continue to work in-car. In addition, text messages will be read to the driver by the system, which will know to translate common text shorthand like "LOL" to proper verbiage.

Follow the jump for more information and Ford's official press release and click here for the official site.

Check out all the debuts and galleries from the Detroit Auto Show here.

The Bluetooth features are nice, but the primary functions are nothing new. The system gets far more interesting on the entertainment side, where connected players' music libraries will be browsable via voice commands. Drivers need only to state an artist, song, album or genre name to have it start playing. It's all in the name of handsfree, low-distraction infotainment, which will become progressively more important as more states adopt laws restricting what drivers are allowed to actively monkey with in their cars. For our part, we welcome anything that lets us rid ourselves of RF transmitters and wired connections for our portable music players. Ford Sync does this and then some, eliminating the need to fumble with the devices entirely. On paper, it appears to be the most elegant solution offered yet from any manufacturer. We're looking forward to a full hands-onoff test.

It'll debut on selected 2008 models and ultimately be available in all Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles later on. Check out the full press release below.


PRESS RELEASE:

FORD SYNC ™ FORD AND MICROSOFT TEAM UP TO DELIVER IN-CAR DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM

Ford Motor Company and Microsoft are launching a new factory-installed, in-car communications and entertainment system that is designed to change the way consumers use digital media players and mobile phones in their vehicles.

The Ford-exclusive technology, called Sync, provides consumers the convenience and flexibility to bring into their vehicle nearly any mobile phone or portable music player and operate it using voice commands or the vehicle's steering wheel or radio controls.

Because Sync is fully upgradeable, Ford owners will never need to worry about whether their car or truck is compatible with the latest phone or music player that hits the market.

"Sync delivers on today's needs and, more importantly, anticipates what future drivers will demand in seamless connectivity," says Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. "Not only does it offer hands-free phone operation and iPod®, ZuneTM or MP3 player connectivity, it's built on a software platform that is upgradeable and will allow us to offer new features by simply upgrading the software."

Sync offers consumers two ways to bring electronic devices into their Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles and operate them seamlessly through voice commands or steering wheel controls: • Bluetooth, for wireless connection of phones and phones that play music. • A USB 2.0 port for command and control and charging of digital media players – including the Apple iPod and Microsoft Zune – as well as "Plays for Sure" music devices and most USB media storage devices. Supported formats include MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV and PCM.

"Ford and Microsoft share a vision for a future where drivers are safely connected to the people, information and entertainment they care about while they are on the road," said Bill Gates, chairman, Microsoft Corporation. "Built on Microsoft Auto technology, Ford Sync delivers an in-car system that is an important step toward achieving this vision."

Sync features:
  • Voice-activated, hands-free calling: Simply press the "Push to Talk" button on the steering wheel, and then say the name of the person you wish to call. Sync will automatically connect with the names in the mobile phone's contact list.
  • Uninterrupted connections: No need to hang up in the middle of a cell phone call as you enter your vehicle. Simply touch the Telephone Button on the steering wheel, and Sync will instantly connect to a Bluetooth phone.
  • Audible text messages: Sync will convert text messages from your phone to audio and read them out loud. The system is even smart enough to translate such commonly used text messaging expressions as "LOL" and : ). You can choose to reply from any of 20 predefined responses.
  • Advanced calling features: Sync includes the same features offered on mobile phones, including caller ID, call waiting, conference calling, a caller log, a list of contacts, a signal strength icon, and a phone battery charge icon – all conveniently located on the radio's display screen.
  • Voice-activated music: Browse the music collection on your digital media player, mobile phone or USB drive by genre, album, artist and song title using simple voice commands, such as "Play genre Rock," "Play ," or "Play Track ."
  • Instant voice recognition: Sync's advanced voice recognition technology means when you're ready to use your phone or digital music player, just speak simple voice commands.
  • Ring tone support: For supported phones, Sync will play personal ring tones. If you've configured unique ring tones to identify specific callers, Sync will automatically play those, too.
  • Automatic phonebook transfer: Sync will wirelessly transfer all the names and numbers in a mobile phonebook automatically.
  • Multilingual intelligence: Sync is fluent in English, French and Spanish.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 19 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Awesome. About time. There is so much cool functionality that could be offered with a system like this you wonder why it hasn't already been done by a major manufacturer. One please.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Nice to see #3 lend a useful topic addition... and #4 summed up my feelings.

      But it does bring a good point - will this be an "OnStar" integration with GPS, vehicle system monitoring and control, or a stand alone system that handles your communications / music only.

      And yes, #3 - you're still a douchebag.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ford. The ultimate nerdmobile.
      Functional. Ugly beyond horror.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Voice-activated, hands-free calling - already out, nice to see ford doing this too

      Uninterrupted connections - haven't tried this one yet, very cool

      Audible text messages - also very cool

      Advanced calling features - already out, nice to see ford doing this too

      Voice-activated music - nice, commands by genre

      Instant voice recognition- already out, nice to see ford doing this too

      Ring tone support- already out... though, if this can eclipse current techonolgy and play ring tones from ANY bluetooth phone i'll be very impressed (unlike current bluetooth enabled cars which are hit and miss).

      Automatic phonebook transfer - already out... though, if this can eclipse current techonolgy and play ring tones from ANY bluetooth phone i'll be very impressed (unlike current bluetooth enabled cars which are hit and miss).

      * All in all a pretty progressive feature set, kinda like the zune, only better (because it does everything current systems do and a bit more :P). I'm glad Ford's getting on the Honda/Nissan bandwagon, now i'd love to see people like VW wise up and offer bluetooth on all their cars, now that the major japanese players and american players are getting in on it.

      Per the ring tones and addressbook, the most dissapointing thing about the toyota/honda setup is that you can't send address books from the major business phones right now, ie certain Blackberry and Treo models. Thankfully they have a compatibility chart with instructions per phone, but that left me out in the cold. admittedly, this is a result of work needing to be done on Treo/Blackberry's end not Toyota... But i feel its a little missleading to indicate it'll just work (on toyota and fords end) without a disclaimer.

      All in all, very cool, now put it in all your cars as an option (ala nissan).
        • 7 Years Ago
        I think that they will put it in most models. If you go to www.syncmyride.com they have a list of models it is debuting in.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #3, on my way home from work last thursday in a fairly hard rain, traffic slowed to a crawl as we approached a car up ahead doing about ten miles per hour with his flashers on. as we neared the car we (my wife and i) noticed it was a new camry with the windshield wipers stuck straight up. as we neared our ramp we spotted a young lady in her tiburon on the side of the road with the hood up. my wife spotted two young kids in the car so she told me to stop. we did, and gave the girl and her kids a ride to the local garage. on the way to the garage, she was crying and told my wife that everytime it rains, her car stalls or won't start at all. no one at her dealer can figure it out. i'm only telling this experience because as this day progressed, i kept thinking of your posts. oh, and did i mention that on this 43 mile journey i did'nt see one ford (or gm) broke down or limping it's way home?
      • 8 Years Ago

      #3
      You're such a douche bag.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Now if only i could drive...
      • 8 Years Ago
      I dont think american car quality is that bad.

      What needs improvement is though is styling and interior quality.
      American cars are probably the ugliest and have the most disgusting interiors.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Will SYNC be offered on the Mustang?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yes.
        • 7 Years Ago
        actually maybe not till the 09 model year.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Apple, FTW, Ford, Why ????????
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm a big ford fan, but i gotta say i've got a grudge against microsoft... oh well. At least ford is taking the lead for a change.
      • 8 Years Ago
      As for the Apple over Microsoft, I'll agree MS has its problems, but do you really see an Apple based system being all inclusive? Do you really think Apple would have made their system compatible with the Zune and other "Non-ipod" MP3 players. No. Apple is the most restrictive format out there. It used to be the other way around, but now it's almost as if owning an Apple product forces you to do things exactly the way Apple wants you to. Microsoft has surprisingly become the company offering the most user freedom.
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