updated 07:40 pm EST, Thu January 12, 2012
Ford Sync updates get our teardown
Ford brought out a slew of updates to its Sync system in time for CES, and we've had the opportunity to try them all in time for CES. Sync Destinations has been given an update that now lets drivers send directions directly to the phone rather than just talking to Ford's cloud services. We saw it in action, and it's a very straightforward process that uses your device's Sync Destinations app as a form of direction store: a Bluetooth (Android or BlackBerry) or USB (these plus iOS) link uploads the files, and the phone can get directions pushed to it from Google Maps on the web.
The system is intended to give directions even if the car doesn't have a navigation package installed, and now even has some traffic features. A driver can factor traffic into route calculation as well as check for nearby accidents or other obstacles. Traffic forecasts also work, and there are usually alternate routes available for any saved point. Sync is using an INRIX system that effectively crowd-sources traffic patterns, both in real-time and in the past.
Ford has the iOS title (App Store) already available in the US. Android and BlackBerry versions should appear before the end of March.
We also had the opportunity to try some of the new apps that were added to AppLink, Ford's approach to letting apps integrate with the car. iHeartRadio and TuneIn Radio were our favorites for their immediate appeal: they both have simple voice guided approaches that let you choose presets or encourage you to explore radio in areas and countries beyond your own. We wanted to try Roximity, an app that finds discounts in areas nearby, but the matching mobile app wasn't yet ready for the public.
Finally, we had a chance to go through a detailed exploration of MyFord Touch 2.0 for ourselves. To say the interface has been cleaned up and made easier is an understatement; it's considerably more direct in music, navigation, and other areas, and gives more top-level access to core functions. For those with iPhones, Android, and BlackBerry devices, it's also more friendly for playback, although it took more time than we'd like to index the phone when playing over USB.
MyFord Touch 2.0 will be a common feature in 2013 model year cars, but if you have a recent car with the earlier version, a USB drive should be available before the end of March to update the firmware.
iheartradio and TuneIn Radio over AppLink
MyFord Touch 2.0