Ford SYNC: History of Infotainment
The first Ford SYNC was released in 2007 through a collaboration between the Ford Motor Company and Microsoft. SYNC was one of the very first efforts to provide drivers with connected car technology — the ability to control your phone from your steering wheel and use voice commands to access both the stereo and the phone itself. The core of the entertainment and communication system was powered by the Windows Embedded Automotive operating system and the system was made available for 12 models across the 2008 Ford lineup. Now, the option for Ford SYNC is available as a standard feature for most new Ford models, and all Lincoln models. The first generation of the SYNC was available from September 2007 to November 2012, when it was replaced with the MyFord Touch system which received overwhelmingly negatively reviews. Users indicated that the MyFord Touch system would crash without warning, would not reliably respond to touch commands, often failed to sync with phones and iPods, and was generally considered to be a mess. This iteration of the SYNC, fortunately, did not last too long. After being launched in 2011, by 2015 it had seen 12 software updates, and Ford had taken in over 22,000 consumer complaints, before being removed and replaced with an entirely redesigned software package. This has resulted in the new, and improved, SYNC 3.
SYNC 3 Updates and Changes
The 3rd iteration of the SYNC infotainment system, and shows remarkable improvements over the first and second iterations. Available on the 2016 Ford Escape and the 2016 Fiesta, the SYNC 3 has been totally redesigned to provide a much more refined user experience than previous iterations. The system is noticeably more responsive with both the touch screen and the voice commands. To help produce a smoother product, Ford replaced the clunky and overly complex Windows Embedded Automotive operating system in favor of BlackBerry’s much nimbler QNX software platform, which is held as the industry standard. The resulting changes have made the system faster and more intuitive to use. The display has also changed, in favor of a design somewhat reminiscent of a smartphone display, allowing for drivers to navigate the system with much greater ease than before. The display shows large icons and easy to read text which allows SYNC 3 to be about as easy to use as an 8-inch touchscreen can really get while driving.
Ford also focused on improving the SYNC’s voice recognition capabilities. While it isn’t quite on par with Siri or Google, the SYNC works very well, though, you do need to stick to a set of pre-programmed voice commands. SYNC also will allow iPhone users to use Siri’s Eyes Free feature. Additionally, by simply using the Push to Talk button on the steering wheel, drivers will have access to a variety of calling features like caller id, call waiting, signal strength, phone battery charge, and even conference calling.
SYNC 3 can also convert SMS messages to audio and read them out loud to the users through the speaker system, though this is carrier dependent. It is also dependent on the device of the users. SYNC supports iPhone, Android, and Window’s mobile, and it can interpret about 100 shorthand messages (like LOL), and will read swear words, but it will not decipher acronyms deemed to be obscene. However, there is another catch for Canadian users; due to a lack of compatibility issues Canadian users will not be able to access turn-by-turn directions, vehicle health report, weather, and climate control commands using voice commands. This is the case because there is no French equivalent for a command in English, but Ford Canada does expect to address these issues in upcoming versions of software.
How to access Ford SYNC Apps with Voice Commands
Accessing mobile applications through voice commands has never been easier by using Ford’s SYNC AppLink. To use SYNC AppLink, simply download a SYNC-Compatible mobile app, then pair and connect your phone to SYNC. Note; SYNC AppLink is NOT compatible with MyFord Touch, and commands vary by phone and SYNC AppLink software. Once the appropriate app is loaded, and your phone is connected, follow these steps to access mobile applications with voice commands:
- 1) Open the SYNC AppLink app and keep it running. iPhone users must have the app running in the foreground.
- 2) Then, enable mobile apps for SYNC 3 by pressing the App icon in the Feature bar at the bottom of your touchscreen
- 3) Slide the button “On”
- 4) Confirm your choice
- 5) Once confirmed, press ‘Close’
- 6) Connect your previously paired device to SYNC
- - Andriod must be connected by Bluetooth
- - iPhones must be connected by a USB cable.
- 7) Select your device or app as the audio source. Once it’s connected, you can control it with voice commands
- 8) You may change apps by voice commands or in the Apps menu.
App-specific voice commands can be found in the SYNC AppLink Compatible Must Have APPS catalog.
SYNC 3 also provides a unique computer system for trucks equipped with Ford Work Solutions, which is a bundle of tech that debuted in April 2009. The Ford Work Solutions system is aimed at professionals who buy the F-line up, E-series van, and Transit connects, and it includes applications like Crew Chief, Garmin Nav, Mobile Office, and Tool Link. Each of these are uniquely brilliant, and have very practical purposes. For instance, the Crew Chief allows for real time vehicle location and maintenance tracking, as well as providing monitoring for numerous vehicle diagnostic functions including tire pressure, water in fuel, airbag faults, and the check engine light. The Garmin Navigation app provides destination routing, and locating points of interest. It also provides lane guidance. Tool Link, developed by Ford, DeWalt, and ThingMagic is an option that allows for users to take physical inventory of objects present in the truck bed by using RFID tag. The system works by attaching an RFID tag to an object and allowing the system to detect the presence or absence of it. Additionally, users can create job lists of objects to verify tools needed for certain jobs.
SYNC Equipped Models
While SYNC 3 has not been rolled out to all 2016 Ford models yet, the handful of cars that will be offering this feature includes some of the most popular cars in Ford’s lineup. Initially, just the 2016 Ford Escape and 2016 Ford Fiesta will be the first vehicles to receive SYNC 3, but models like the 2016 Mustang will also offer an upgrade to the SYNC 3 system.
For more information regarding models equipped with, or have the option to be equipped with, the SYNC 3 system contact Mainland Ford today! We would love to set you up with a test drive so you can get behind the wheel and test the new and improved system today for yourself.