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I got back into the office yesterday and in the course of a number of "Happy New Years" and other conversations, I was also asked what I did over the Holidays. Besides spending some well-deserved time with the family (I probably travel more than my kids would like), the most exciting thing we did was purchase a new vehicle.
Truth be told, I was not specifically looking to get a new vehicle but my own car (1995 BMW M540) is in need of some work and I wanted to get something more winter-friendly. Looking at the news reports of the auto sector bailouts, and having leased a Chrysler Town and Country for my wife to use earlier this year, I was curious at what was out there from Ford, GM or Chrysler that I would find attractive while at the same time be able to make a small contribution to the North American economy. To make a long story short, we (because a new vehicle is always a family purchase) settled on a 2009 Ford Escape with Ford Sync (powered by Microsoft).
While I was pleasantly surprised by the Ford Escape in terms of overall handling, finish, performance and the like, what really blew me away was the Sync system. After only using it for a little over a week, I don't think I will ever get a car without it, and here's why.
When I get into my Ford Escape and turn on the key the Sync system automatically connects to my Windows Mobile device, a Samsung Jack, via Bluetooth and now my phone calls play over the internal speakers. The microphones in the car work so well that my wife tells me it's clearer than using the phone directly. Furthermore, when I paired my phone initially with the Sync system, it downloaded my entire address book, and through what I would consider quite amazing voice recognition, allows me to issue such commands as "Call John Oxley at work". The response is a very efficient "Calling John Oxley at work" and I am connected. Incoming calls also display the name of the person calling on the dashboard (if in my address book) or the phone number for easy reference. I suspect that I am probably only scratching the surface on the phone features, and need to look at the manual to find out how to do more wonderful stuff with it - like have Sync read out my text messages to me!!
Another cool thing about the Ford Sync system is the ability to take the music content of my Zune (or iPod, if you choose) and index it within the system. This allows me to issue such voice commands as "Play Artist Guns and Roses" and Sync connects to the Zune, gets the appropriate tracks and starts playing. Oh so cool!! I can even have it play similar songs to the one I'm listening to, shuffle all songs or a subset of them, play my playlists, and so on. Great for those long trips after the free 6-month Sirius subscription has run out!!
The one thing I have yet to try is the Vehicle Health Report which provides you with an email on how your vehicle is doing and if there is anything you need to worry about or recalls to deal with. Quite handy and I'll give it a try in a month or so, whether it needs it or not.
The one Sync service I don't want to try is the 911 Assist, but is is great to know that it is there in case I ever need it.
All in all, I can say that the Ford Sync (powered by Microsoft) really made the decision to buy my new 2009 Ford Escape an easy one. I've only had my Escape and Sync for a short time and am loving it. I would love to hear from others who have also bough the Sync system or are considering it so send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell me your Sync story or post a comment on the blog.
Damir Bersinic, an IT Pro advisor at Microsoft Canada, shares his experience with Ford Sync after buying
So all in all... seems like it Kick Onstar's little rear end on the UX side :)
Looks like Sync will get even better: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123138157410963209.html?mod=rss_Autos