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Ford and Microsoft debuted SYNC at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show, updated the system at last year's event and now keep the tradition alive with more enhancements for 2009. The next iteration of SYNC will sport new features able to take full advantage of a user's GPS-enabled bluetooth smartphone.

Boiled down to the bare essentials, these features are summed up as Traffic, Directions and Information. The Traffic feature sends texts messages with traffic alerts to the user's phone, or the SYNC system can read them aloud in the car. The Directions function mimics a full-feature navigation system by displaying directions on the radio and speaking them audibly through the sound system. And finally there's information, which allows users to access sports, weather and news of all types through SYNC.

The best part is that all of these features follow you to any vehicle equipped with SYNC via your smartphone. Ford even claims that the iPhone works with these new capabilities despite the fact Apple limits the phone's Bluetooth capability and AT&T doesn't allow data tethering. We'll be sure to get more details on how all this works later today when we meet with Ford execs and get a demonstration.

The big Blue Oval says it will offer these new SYNC features on almost all Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles with three years of service included right up front. Check out Ford's full press release and see a video demonstrartion of the new features after the jump.

[Source: Ford]



* SYNC with Traffic, Directions and Information provides personalized, real-time information to help drivers get to where they're going with information they need. New services come with no monthly subscription fees for the first three years.
* Users' customizations stay with their phone and can be used in other SYNC-equipped vehicles and can be upgraded free as new services are available.
* New features launch later this year on select 2010 models and will roll out across the entire Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury lineup by 2011.
* SYNC sales expected to top 1 million in 2009.

LAS VEGAS, Jan.7, 2009 – Ford is expanding its connectivity leadership by introducing exclusive new SYNC real-time information features that deliver personalized news updates to drivers' mobile phones while helping them navigate around trouble spots, saving time and fuel.

"Our vision with SYNC is to be a leader in connectivity, making it affordable for millions – just as Ford has done with safety and fuel-saving technologies," said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally. "In less than 18 months since we launched SYNC, Ford has delivered two more major new features, and we have more in store.

"We are a car company that through market-driven, customer-focused innovation is learning to think and act like an electronics company, leveraging partnerships with fresh, innovative technology leaders," added Mulally, who delivers the Consumer Electronics Show keynote address on Thursday.

The success of SYNC – the award-winning communications and entertainment system developed by Ford and Microsoft – continues to grow. Ford's game-changing vehicle connectivity model and affordability have helped make it one of the widest technology introductions in the industry, launching on 12 vehicles simultaneously.

SYNC-equipped Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles sell nearly twice as fast as those without, and a Ford survey of SYNC customers showed nearly 80 percent of respondents "definitely would" recommend it to a friend.

Since the introduction of SYNC in the 2008 Ford Focus, Ford quickly has integrated the technology. By summer 2009, Ford's entire North American lineup will offer this must-have technology, demonstrating its rapid, consumer-driven adoption. Ford expects to have 1 million SYNC-equipped vehicles on the road by the third quarter of 2009.

"We define connectivity as a way to keep people moving through their lives – not simply as an on-board computer," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "Our approach focuses on connecting people to the information they need, whenever and wherever they need it. These new features are aimed at enhancing the driver's entire quality of life."

Ford's next-generation system – SYNC with Traffic, Directions and Information – leverages industry-leading voice-recognition software, integrated GPS technology and a customer's Bluetooth-capable mobile phone. Debuting this spring, it will provide simple hands-free access to personalized traffic reports, precise turn-by-turn driving directions and up-to-date information including business listings, news, sports and weather.

The new services will be available on nearly all 2010 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models with no initial monthly subscription fees, thanks to three years of service included with a new vehicle purchase.

"Ford is unique because we continue to build on the power of the SYNC system that lets customers connect to off-board services through their own mobile devices," said Doug VanDagens, director of Ford's Connected Services Organization. "With that foundation, there is no limit to the data we can offer. Working with our partners – the best of the best in the technology world – we will continue to provide new services in a timeframe on par with the consumer electronics industry."

According to 2008 year-end data, Smartphones were a clear consumer must-have, offering such advanced capabilities as a keyboard, Web browser and some PC-like functionality. Research findings suggest that growth in this industry is expected to continue at 40-percent year-over-year.

SYNC's new suite of services allows customers the ability to integrate with off-board services and provide a personalized infotainment experience to the driver by utilizing the customer's own phone. That powerful match is what differentiates SYNC in the marketplace and what will expand Ford's connectivity leadership long-term.

"Today, Ford leads the industry leader in infotainment," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of Global Product Development. "As we transform our vehicle lineup, we intend to continue making smart technology a key differentiator for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products."

Ford is partnering with Microsoft and other recognized companies – INRIX, TeleNav, Tellme (a Microsoft subsidiary), M/A-COM and Airbiquity -- to enable the new services to connect to real-time data.

"We're excited to see Ford's great innovations developed on top of our Microsoft Auto platform that continue to improve how people spend time in their car," says Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division.

"The combination of software and services, including the industry leading technology from Microsoft Auto and Tellme, are delivering entirely new voice-enabled experiences that make the time spent in the car more entertaining and more productive," Bach added.

To take advantage of Traffic, Directions and Information, customers simply have to pair their Bluetooth-enabled phone with SYNC and activate the service via www.syncmyride.com. Once that's complete, the feature becomes "portable," meaning customers can access the information in any Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle equipped with SYNC and the Traffic, Directions and Information function.

SYNC's new traffic feature will literally save drivers time and money by providing personalized traffic reports based on best-in-class content.

"We are able to provide traffic speed, flow and incident information to drivers in 95 markets nationwide," said VanDagens. "In addition, drivers can personalize the system to alert them of changing road conditions."

In a text message to the user's device, drivers will get the location and severity of accidents or new road construction causing areas of heavy congestion. Users can personalize the system to send them an alert before they leave home or have SYNC read the text message in their vehicle.

"SYNC is working for you before you're even out of bed," VanDagens said. "That's what we mean by a quality-of-life experience."

According to Telematics Research Group, Inc., navigation-enabled mobile phones are becoming consumers' top choice for navigation services. This shift will open up new applications and services – and SYNC is positioned to take full advantage of this market shift using its powerful partnership network.

Drivers requesting directions now can use a variety of search criteria including a 14-million-plus business directory to find their destination, be it a favorite coffee shop or the location of a business meeting.

Turn-by-turn directions are downloaded to the vehicle and are spoken to the user over the vehicle's audio system and displayed on the radio.

Like the new traffic service, directions incorporate real-time traffic information. Through a set of more conversational voice commands, the user need only speak the name, category or "nearest."

The new directions service also offers users a choice of how they'd like to receive the information:

* Automatic connection to business telephone using the driver's personal device;
* Turn-by-turn directions to the business location using the vehicle's audio system; or
* Text message to user's device with business listing and map.

Another new feature of SYNC will help drivers' personalize and categorize their favorite media topics, such as sports, weather and news using voice commands or through www.syncmyride.com.

Examples include:

* Personalized sports reports featuring scores and highlights for any professional or college team;
* Current weather conditions and forecasts based on city, state or zip-code; and
* News of all types – entertainment, business, top stories and technology.

"SYNC has been developed to allow users to create their own experiences," said VanDagens. "Some people may wish to check their stock portfolios; others might want their hometown baseball scores. With SYNC's unique architecture and the powerful Tellme voice service, there are no boundaries to the information users can access."

New short-cuts added
SYNC has gotten smarter as well, and is providing a variety of new "short-cut" commands. Users recall comments such as, "Call Joe at work," and, "Play artist ACDC." New commands include, "traffic to work," and, "directions to home." Using the website, users can save a variety of locations such as home, office and airport – any location in the U.S.

These new capabilities are in addition to SYNC's established hallmark suite of services, from hands-free, voice-activated cell phone, text messaging and digital media player integration to the more recent security and convenience additions of 911 Assist and Vehicle Health Report.

"We understand how important it is for customers to feel connected to their lives – even on the road," Kuzak said. "Ford is committed to continue working with the top technology companies in the business to deliver even more of the features consumers really want."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      If I could link my iPhone to my Ford, I would probably never by another brand again.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "If the system can read allerts outloud, why on earth would you want them sent as text messages to your phone."

        Because you might not be in the car at the time. If you are in the car, the system reads them aloud. If you aren't (like in the house or at work) they show up on your phone.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I fail to understand why Ford feels this is something everyone wants. it should be an option on every vehicle, not standard. if it is standard, it should be a delete option.

      I spend over $2,800 to have this removed from my 2008 MKZ, and will not go thru that expense again on another vehicle. I don't need (or want) a car that does anything for me. I am quite capable of dailing a phone myself (without a single number in memory, camera and gadget-free), and absolutely hate a cheesy color screen that looks like a video game from the 80's. I tried it for a week, and finally covered the screen altogether at night with a piece of cardboard. it was completely gone within days, replaced with the regular radio/Sirius receiver from a 2007 model.

      I was pricing out an '09 F150. due to the big changes in Ford's "simplified" ordering system, it is now cheaper to order a Lariat than the XLT that I wanted. of course, the SYNC is standard on the Lariat. no sale.

        • 6 Years Ago

        I don't know how I can make this any clearer; I have no knowledge or interest in technology.

        I don't even know what an Ipod is. I suspect it is like a Sony Walkman. and I'm not kidding.

        download music? from where? I'm lucky I'm typing this, and know how to send it. I have no understanding of using a digital camera (I'm back to using disposable cameras, as Polaroid film is now gone), and the complexity is completely lost on me. if I took pictures with a digital camera, I would have no clue on how to do anything with them, let alone the myriad of selections I need to make before doing anything. why not just one button to push, and you've taken a picture?

        I had a CD changer in my last Cadlillac, and I could not for the life of me understand how to use it. I just unbolted it from the trunk, and threw it away. ditto for the DVD player at home. it came with a 200+ page instruction book (for something that cost $39.95!) yet I could not see a single place that told me how to make it play. in the trash can. Blue-ray? you might as well be speaking Russian.

        learning something new requires one thing, first and foremost, to make that happen: desire. I hate technology, and will not embrace it. most people, it seems, learn much of this from their kids, or people around them. I live by myself in the middle of nowhere, and have no kids...and again, no desire to learn about technology. my talents lie in other areas.

        I've said for many years to friends that companies like HP could fire the monkey they use to test the simplicity of their computers and hire me. I'm sure I'd be much more interesting to watch, and perhaps their computers would become much simpler to use.

        there are a lot of others like me; I think most would not be honest enough to admit it. I have no problem with that.

        • 6 Years Ago
        "if the SYNC system was so successful, why hasn't a single other auto manufacturer copied it?"

        It's a Microsoft system and Ford had exclusive rights for the first year - expect a similar system in non-Ford vehicles soon. If you don't want what is essentially a $400 navigation system that can make hands free calls, read text messages, control your entire MP3 library via your voice and read you traffic updates on the fly then that's fine, but to argue that SYNC isn't successful or helps sells cars is just being silly.
        • 6 Years Ago
        a couple of things here:

        first, SYNC is not standard on all Lincolns; it is not even available on the Town Car. a sunroof is a "bell and whistle", yet it isn't standard on any Lincoln, either. this silly gimmick should be an option (even a "no charge" one), too.

        second, I have no plans whatsoever to attach my phone to anything else but my ear; no need to get the car involved in the conversation. I many times have clients in the car, and have no desire for them to be listening to phone calls with other clients while I drive.

        just about everyone hates talking to someone on a speakerphone; this phone/SYNC IS a speakerphone. I refuse to be the one doing the talking. I've had the same issues with OnStar in the past, and now the first order of business when I buy a new GM car is to have the signal receiver box disconnected and removed from the car. they can keep their one year of free service; I don't need to be followed everywhere, or have to deal with their endless selling when I'm just trying to make a call.

        if the SYNC system was so successful, why hasn't a single other auto manufacturer copied it?

        • 6 Years Ago
        We have an '08 Fusion w/ a manual. It is so very nice to be able to hit one button and say, "phone, call ____." Done. No digging in pockets or purses. And this speaker phone is crisp and clear. Love it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        vehicles with option 'turn' about 60% (in some cases higher) faster than vehicles without. It is a very smooth system. And you represent a vast minority of people who have used the system and do not like it.
        I have tried many other competitors to this (Chrysler MyGig and Uconnect, Onstar), and NONE give you this functionality at this cost.
        If you actually did spend that much to have it 'removed' from your MKZ then I would have to say you wasted your money. You could simply not pair your phone and you wouldnt even know sync was there. the new radio's use a different display. gone are the days of the 'green' atari screen.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Why would you waste nearly $3000 removing it? If you didn't like Sync you could have easily just not used it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        perhaps some of my initial comments were missed.

        1) I have no interest in having a very nice luxury car with a cheesy color screen.

        2) "just don't use it". to turn on the radio, you still see the cheesy color screen that is very hard to see in bright sunlight. at night, it looks like some Kraco aftermarket accessory purchased at Pep Boys, not something that would be in a luxury car.

        3) when I turn this thing on, I want to see a radio (nothing else) with green digital numbers. I don't want it to make calls, or play music at my voice command, or sing and dance. it's a radio.

        not everyone wants all the latest tech stuff. much of it is outdated within a few years.

        navigation systems are a good example of this. everyone I know has one, and they find it fuuny I don't, as I drive about 150,000 miles per year. I wouldn't have one on a bet, especially if I actually planned on using it to actually go from place-to-place, and not as a "gee whiz" gadget to find the total number of Chinese/Mexican combination restaurants in a 50 mile radius.

        the last navigation attempt was about a month ago. I was in Los Angeles seeing customers for five days; one of my very good customers (he is a private jet pilot) wanted to go with me. he brought along his GPS.

        for those familiar with Los Angeles, he lives in the Montclair area, east of Los Angeles, right off of I-10. we were heading to LaBrea Avenue, 2 blocks north of I-10. basically, a straight shot on I-10. but not to his GPS!

        it wanted me to go south on the 605 to the 105 (south of LAX!), and then up the 405 to I-10 east. altogether, over an hour and 40 miles out of the way. needless to say, I didn't follow the silly directions.

        from there, I needed to head up to the Hollywood Hills. again, a straight shot up LaBrea to Sunset, and hang a left. but not to this Alpine GPS; we were supposed to make over 17 turns in less than 5 miles.

        I've had several other friends try to "school" me to the wonders of GPS on really long (7,000-11,000 mile) cross-country trips. after several blank white screens with my destination in the middle with a black "X", the GPS unit is unplugged, put away, and the much more reliable "Fred Flintstone" atlas is opened, and we get to our next stop.

        technology is not embraced by everyone, and I'm far from 90 years old.

        • 6 Years Ago
        come on AZ... really? these are your points for not liking the system?

        it sounds like you dont like the RADIO screen on your car, not the sync system. the radio would look the same with or without sync (unless of course you opted for the Nav system). Fords NAV system is known for being one of the best factory installed systems, not to mention the new system with SIRIUS Travellink. You represent maybe 1% of all people in buying a luxury car but not wanting technology. the 2 go hand-in-hand. The Town car doesnt offer SYNC because it's a dinosaur on it's way out. If you dont like Onstar, thats fine... i'm with you. They nickel and dime you on a system that is run through an operator. Sync is FREE every month and does way more for you. Having voice access to digital music is worth it alone... ever try scrolling through 10,000 ipod songs trying to drive??! being able to say "Play Artist 'Doobie Brothers'" and having it play your favorite Doobie Bros song HAS to make you all tingly inside...
        Other manufactures to dont have SYNC because that is a Ford branded name... Microsoft is already working with lots of other car makers on their own 'unique' system that is basically taking Ford's system and marketing it on their own. Come on now, dont make statements about a system sucking unless you're ready to really look at the hard facts. People WANT sync (especially luxury buyers) and Sync SELLS cars... i dont see how that is bad...
      • 6 Years Ago
      The SYNC system is one of the best tachnologies to be introduced in several years. It is great to see Ford continuing to improve on it instead of sitting back and milking the original version until it is outdated. Things might be looking up soon.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Research and test drive a car before you buy it! It would have saved you a lot of money to choose a different vehicle without the technology, right? And as far as "unbolting" your cd changer from your Cadillac..... WHY??? Just don't use it. At least don't throw it away; you could sell it. I guess I just don't understand your actions though I do understand why you don't like technology; it's not for everyone.
      • 6 Years Ago
      OK GM. Seeing the New LaCrosse, SRX, Equinox Camaro, CTS and Malibu: you are finally realizing how to build a competitive car.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Looks like azmike is playing with his captive audience...

      For those still around, SYNC is great feature - especially for those of us with company issued Blackberry's that are password protected. Simply download your address book and make calls anytime without having to touch your phone.

      Upper management has got to love the fact their employees can stay focused on the road rather than fumbling with their phones!
      • 6 Years Ago

      Once you link your Bluetooth phone to Sync, it will read your text messages aloud. No messing with your phone.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I guess gimmicks do sell cars.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You criticized Ford twice in a row. Ford scores big with F150 build and safety, so you call it ugly. Ford sync gets a new update so you call it a gimmick.

        Ford F150 is a work truck 1st. Quality/safety/functionality is top priority and that's why they're #1 in this class.
        Sync is a huge communications/techonological push forward in the auto industry. It'll dial 911 in the event of accidents, pickup and receive calls while minimizing driver interaction.

        If you don't think Ford is pushing forward then what company do you think is great?

        At current standings, the only things Ford falls behind compared to competitors are:
        1 - Exterior design for SOME of their vehicles, which has already been addressed over a year ago and you will see huge improvements later this year and next.
        2 - Marketing which has already being revamped to deliver a consistent general message with adjustments on the regional level. (what farley was brought in to do)
        3 - Mileage which Ford has already been addressed about 2 years ago, and we will continue to see huge improvements on within the next 1-2 yrs. Currently Ford is only marginally lower than the 2 japanese competitors in terms of mileage. Once these new engines and design materials come into play, ford will meet or outperform the competitors even if they dont out market them.
        4 - Quality/reliability which again, Ford is only marginally lower than the 2 japanese volume competitors. Again this has already been addressed over 2yrs ago. In which they have a new quality control division set up. If this new plant is capable, Ford could wedge themselves in between the toyonda duo. Reliability will take more time to address.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Ford is really on it's game lately. the past few years of extremely hard work are really paying dividends. Couple these recent successes with the upcoming product plans and overall strategy moving forward and i think Ford is going to continue to surprise us.
      keep up the good work!
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