mobile / motoring / 16/03/2013

Hands On: Ford Sync

ford-focusI recently got try Ford Sync, an in-car infotainment system that comes standard in the Focus range.

As of last week, the connectivity platform is now available on the 2013 Fiesta line-up, making it very affordable. In-car infotainment systems are no longer exclusively available on high-end vehicles.

What exactly is Ford Sync? Sync is a technology built by Microsoft that lets drivers control their handsets completely hands-free, with the use of voice commands. Any handset that has Bluetooth will work with Sync, including Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone and Symbian handsets – that should cover just about anyone with a smartphone.

Once you connect your handset, you can make phone calls, have your text messages read out to you and control your music – including asking the system to play similar music to the current track/artist that is playing.

To get started, you need to connect your handset via Bluetooth; or connect a digital media player (iPod, MP3 player, flash drive) via USB. Playback formats supported include MP3, AAC, WMA and WAV.

dashboard

I tested Sync on a Ford Focus (will hopefully get to try it on the Fiesta next month), and paired it with an iPhone 5. Set-up was straight-forward – the Sync dashboard provides a code for you to link your handset.

Once you’re connected, you can copy your contacts to the car, which is only accessible if the same handset is paired via Bluetooth. To activate the Sync voice command system, you push the ‘voice’ button on the steering wheel. If you don’t want to use voice, you can use the buttons found on the dashboard.

With voice commands, you can make phone calls, play music from a connected device (smartphone, iPod, MP3 player, flash drive), or switch to the radio. I made a phone call to my dad, which was easy enough because “dad” cannot be mistaken for another contact. Whereas asking it to call my husband took a few tries as his name is similar to another contact.

Sync-dashboard

When I said “Bluetooth audio”, it played music from my iPhone, which was clear and no experience of any distortion, or loss of quality. You can also tell it to pause, skip tracks or play similar music.

Sync can also read new text messages, with options to reply from 15 predefined messages. The system is able to recognise up to 150 voice commands, and should handle a variety of accents well.

My overall experience of connecting a smartphone was seamless, as well as listening to music over Bluetooth. My own Blue&Me system on the Fiat doesn’t recognise my music library – it’s just good for making phone calls. So if you’re looking for a way to speak on your phone without the risk of being fined, or causing accidents, and listen to something way better than the radio, consider a vehicle with Ford Sync.



Nafisa Akabor
Always online... except when I'm offline.




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