Print 28 comment(s) - last by chagrinnin.. on Dec 22 at 1:59 AM

Ford's new version of SYNC will bring detailed interface with apps, such as geographic apps, location finders, social networking apps (Twitter, Facebook), and streaming internet radio (Pandora).  (Source: Fabric of Folly)
Ford continues to lead the way in mainstream automotive tech offerings

For a time General Motors led the auto industry with its OnStar service, which offered hands-free calling, turn-by-turn directions, and remote diagnostics.  Then in 2008, Ford rained on GM's parade, launching SYNC, powered by the Microsoft Auto operating system.  SYNC today puts OnStar, its closest competitor, to shame with improvements like traffic alerts, voice-activated music, audible text messages, and information services (offering sports, weather, news, and more).

The rise of SYNC closely mirrored Ford's own advances on GM's marketshare -- and indeed helped to drive some of these gains (Ford still trailed GM's sales by 3 million vehicles in 2008).  Mark Boyadjis of iSuppli Corp comments, "Fords used to be a pretty basic, plain-Jane car. Even the Lincolns were little more than leather and some sound-deadening. Now, their cars are literally at the top of the space when it comes to technology. It has helped Ford gain market share from General Motors and Chrysler."

Ford's run of SYNC exclusivity appears to be about to end in the U.S., though.  Overseas, Italy's Fiat SpA was the first automaker worldwide to introduce the Microsoft-driven system.  Now that Fiat owns part of Chrysler, it is working with Microsoft on plans to deploy SYNC to the upcoming Chrysler/Fiat lineup.  The Fiat 500, which will debut in the U.S. next year, will likely carry the system.  And South Korea's Hyundai Kia Automotive Group has been working since 2008 on plans to bring SYNC to its vehicles, though it still hasn't announced a specific launch window.

Mr. Boyadjis doubts that these competitors' variants of SYNC will prove a significant challenge to Ford's advanced system, though.  He explains, "Ford has taken over a lot of this and created its own ecosystem. It will be more competitive, but I don't think it will overshadow the success that Sync has had.  Every year, they're announcing features that are not only groundbreaking, but easily upgradeable.  They're doing a lot of this without our direct engineering involvement.  We're enabling them to create their own unique applications and provide them to their customers."

Ford is headlining CES and will be unveiling their new version of SYNC at the show.  Reportedly, the updated SYNC's biggest improvement will be its new ability to interface with apps on a variety of smart phones (presumably the iPhone, Android, RIM, Windows Mobile Phones -- and perhaps others). 

Why is that significant?  That means that Ford will likely be the first automaker to be getting real time voice-delivered social network updates from Twitter and Facebook.  And also it will likely be the first to get streaming music from apps like Pandora.  Location apps like the iPhone's restaurant finder apps and their ilk will also be optimal fodder for the new system.  Ford will publish a "mobile applications" API to allow app writers to easily adapt their apps for the system.

And what's truly exciting is that these bleeding edge features won't just be available on luxury models -- they should be available across most of Ford's lineup.  Most of the new technology is proprietary upgrades to the base SYNC software developed at Ford.  That means that even as competitors try to get basic SYNC systems of their own out the door, Ford will likely once again reinvent how consumers interact with technology in their car and on the go.

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First things first.
By therealnickdanger on 12/18/2009 8:23:31 AM , Rating: 2

I love tech integration as much as the next guy, but we have a clear problem with driver distraction in this country. Until the driver is removed from the equation, I guess I don't want him to even be thinking about Facebook or tweeting about the cars in his way...

RE: First things first.
By mdogs444 on 12/18/2009 8:30:40 AM , Rating: 3
Better them doing it on voice activated Sync system rather than typing on their blackberry/iphones.

RE: First things first.
By ImSpartacus on 12/18/2009 8:33:51 AM , Rating: 5
I kinda agree. It's one of those things that will happen no matter what you do. Therefore, you might as well make the unsafe practice as safe as possible.

It's kinda like giving birth control to teenage girls. At first it seems like you are encouraging poor actions.Then it dawns on you that the actions are unavoidable and you might as well make the best of a bad situation.

RE: First things first.
By mdogs444 on 12/18/2009 8:36:33 AM , Rating: 3
As with most things in this world, you pick the lesser of two evils and deal with it.

RE: First things first.
By AEvangel on 12/18/2009 9:43:03 AM , Rating: 3
you pick the lesser of two evils and deal with it.

"Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil." Jerry Garcia

RE: First things first.
By therealnickdanger on 12/18/2009 9:54:04 AM , Rating: 3
So sayeth the heroin addict.

Being a drugged-out hippie who contributes nothing to society is just as evil, IMO.

RE: First things first.
By ClownPuncher on 12/18/2009 12:14:17 PM , Rating: 2
I would agree, but he contributed music and a legacy most of us can only hope to achieve.

RE: First things first.
By therealnickdanger on 12/18/2009 2:38:53 PM , Rating: 3
Contribution of music? I suppose that fits the dictionary definition of "legacy". I'll admit without hesitation that he was a very talented musician, however a legion of hippie followers and pints of "Cherry Garcia" hardly constitute a legacy in the legendary/iconic sense that I envision. Whatever, it really doesn't matter, my point was that his life and the lfestyle he promoted was one of passivism, a type of social lethargy that by its very nature allows the proliferation of evil to continue - something that is opposed the quote attributed to him.

RE: First things first.
By chagrinnin on 12/20/2009 4:19:48 AM , Rating: 2
It's one of those things that will happen...

Agreed. But not if those applications can't be accessed unless the car is in park. Most cars wont start or shift unless you hit the brake pedal. Seems to me that they could easily make Facebook or Twitter inaccessable unless the car is in park. Personally I wish people would pull over to use the effin phone, but then the emergency lanes would be full. :P

RE: First things first.
By DougF on 12/21/2009 9:15:42 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed. But not if those applications can't be accessed unless the car is in park.

I know this a concept foreign to most Americans, but passengers* might want to use the SYNC services without stopping every time.

*Passengers: Other people who ride in the vehicle with you.

RE: First things first.
By weskurtz0081 on 12/21/2009 5:05:31 PM , Rating: 2
Nice, now there is a constructive post. Go ahead and lump an entire country in with a few clowns on the internet who are not thinking about what they are posting....

Sure, you said "most", but why even go there?

RE: First things first.
By chagrinnin on 12/22/2009 1:59:30 AM , Rating: 2
Passengers!!! You might as well invite the neighborhood kids to play on your lawn! Geez. Some people. :P

On a more serious note,...I was referring to the driver* being distracted. Thought that would be obvious to most. I have nothing against the passengers watching DVD's or playing video games if that's what they want. I often catch rides with my friends to check my e-mail. :P

*driver: the guy on the phone

RE: First things first.
By aqwan135 on 12/20/2009 7:47:45 PM , Rating: 1

fr ee sh i pp ing

(jordan shoes) $32

(air max) $34



RE: First things first.
By Mitch101 on 12/21/2009 11:10:24 AM , Rating: 3
Looks like a bot aimed at DT.

Time to add a captcha or a question to posts to get rid of these f**k tards.

There should be a way to prosecute them for this style of spam.

Not the same
By djc208 on 12/18/2009 10:14:51 AM , Rating: 5
today puts OnStar, its closest competitor, to shame

SYNC and OnStar are not the same type of setup. OnStar is a service that allows the OnStar system to interface with the car's electronics via an onboard cellular system. It also provides voice communications with operators at the serivce that can provide other features. Either way it requires a subscription to the OnStar service to use.

SYNC is an advanced onboard OS for controlling the car and any peripherals it links too. It has no built in communications link (other than bluetooth to your cell phone) and as far as I know it's control of the car is limited to center stack type controls (stereo, climate control, navigation). You can't unlock the car remotely, or have it e-mail you vehicle diagnostics.

So to say they are competitors is kind of pushing it. Some of their features overlap but that's about it.

RE: Not the same
By mxzhonkey on 12/18/2009 3:11:14 PM , Rating: 2
well you wrong on a few points. most ford vehicles with sync dont need a call to let them in. there is buttons on the door that allow that. and yes it can email you about the health of your car. it uses your phone to send info to your account.

Jettison Sirius?
By Ytsejamer1 on 12/18/2009 10:16:47 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know about you, but if I got a system that would interface with services like and Pandora, I'd totally think about ditching my Sirius/XM subscription. Pandora for $36 a year seems totally worth it.

The only worry is the amount of bandwidth used over your cell's network. Does anyone know how much data Pandora streams in say, one hour of listening?

RE: Jettison Sirius?
By micksh on 12/18/2009 12:54:27 PM , Rating: 2
128 kbit/s is 57MB/hour and 3 hours per day is more than 5GB per month. Mobile ISPs will be glad to charge you $30/month for that. May want to think twice before ditching Sirius.

RE: Jettison Sirius?
By gregpet on 12/21/2009 2:49:47 PM , Rating: 2
And what about road trips?

twitter, great
By tastyratz on 12/18/2009 10:58:06 AM , Rating: 5
Twitter and facebook updates in your car, great. Just what we need as if driver distraction wasn't bad enough.

Has society truly reached a new low where a law needs to be passed preventing drivers from checking their Facebook on public roads?

Personally I prefer the new radio be equipped with a webcam and streaming internet. Then when it senses the driver is distracted and staring at the screen for longer than 2 seconds an electrically charged rectal probe pops out of the seat. Then the webcam video is updated to youtube.

By sapiens74 on 12/18/2009 5:21:01 PM , Rating: 2

By Beenthere on 12/18/2009 7:55:43 PM , Rating: 1
Chrysler does make some good cars, trucks and the best mini-van by most accounts. Their Jeep line is decent too. Now all of that will go down the tube as they put Mopar name plates on Fiats. That's a guaranteed death march IMO and U.S. tax payers get to pay for it all.

By rudolphna on 12/19/2009 9:57:48 AM , Rating: 2
Chrysler makes some good cars. The Challenger, 300C, Charger, RAM, Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Cherokee to name a few.

I've always wondered...
By mydogfarted on 12/18/2009 11:59:06 AM , Rating: 1
what happens when SYNC gets the B.S.O.D.? Do you have to restart your car? :P

RE: I've always wondered...
By weskurtz0081 on 12/21/2009 5:10:34 PM , Rating: 3
Just imagine if the system were designed by Apple. Then, you would only be allowed to use iTunes, and it would only play music from one device, and if you plugged another device into it, say your friends device, it would wipe all his music out and put your music on it..... man, what a nightmare that would be ;)

Hats off to Microsoft
By hinchesk on 12/20/2009 1:07:45 AM , Rating: 2
Credit where credit's due... seems they've actually innovated in the car computer space... good for them.

Just what we need...
By Beenthere on 12/18/2009 3:08:25 PM , Rating: 1
More driver distractions and car crashes to increase injuries and fatalities. Why didn't they think of this sooner? At least now when you get a BSOD you won't need to worry because it could be a permanent BSOD for you or your passengers.

Ford leads way in tech?
By Andrwken on 12/21/2009 10:47:48 PM , Rating: 1
Ok, my 2005 GMC Sierra had onstar, with voice acivated cellular, Sattelite GPS tracking (opinions differ on this being a good thing), the ability to unlock the car, turn by turn nav, crash detection, airbag deployment detection, and the ability to deploy an ambulance or police to your location if needed. It also came with XM radio and mp3 capability built in. Please explain to me how 5 years later (which is an eternity in tech speak) Ford comes out with a system built by Microsoft that marginally adds some features to the combination I have and does not offer some of the more significant features of On Star and yet we are groveling at their feet? They've been behind the 8-ball for 5 plus years, oh goodie for them. Catching up is now innovation? Some of these articles are getting really sad.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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