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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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

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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