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Hands-on with Ford Focus 2012 Sync

Hands-on with Ford Focus Sync

Voice commands impress, but interface needs work
Wed Jun 01 2011, 10:37

THE INQUIRER got some quality time with Ford’s upcoming hands-free in-car Sync technology at Holborn Studios this past week.

The voice commands were the stand out feature and with Sync supporting up to 10,000 phrases, we could pretty much tell the car to do all manner of things, except wash the dishes.

Inputting voice commands was easy and really simple to pick up. To start playing a song from an Ipod, we simply hit the paddle on the steering wheel, waited for the beep and then said “play song” followed by the name of the song or artist. The software was also capable of recognising playlists and genres.

Ford Focus Sync in car

Our favourite bit, however, was the playback of text messages. Although not as nasally as the robotic woman from Google Navigation, the first lady of Ford Sync did sound a little creepy when reading out text messages – especially those that ended with her saying “smiley face” or “LOL”.

Another impressive feature was the ability to connect most devices via the USB ports, Bluetooth, WiFi or RCA cables. The WiFi connectivity also means that users can plug in a mobile dongle and turn their Focus into a mobile internet café, useful on those long trips. Handily, Sync also accepts input from SD cards.

Ford Sync Connectivity

The plug and play nature of the software means there is no hefty install, aside from the need to collate contacts from a mobile phonebook or tracks from an MP3 player upon first sync.

Although it was impressive, Sync was not perfect. When sitting in the driver’s seat, we did find it very difficult not to look at the 8in touchscreen located in the centre console. Even though the car was stationary during our tests, it remains to be seen how big a distraction this will be when driving.

Ford Sync touch screen

We also found the touchscreen main menu a little too cluttered at times. The main screen tried to show too much information and some simplification would go down well.

The software is powered by an ARM Cortex A8 processor running at 600MHz along with 512MB of RAM, so it’s not really kitted out for heavy duty usage.

Some users might be put off by the Microsoft back-end, although we can confirm that it is better than the disaster that was Windows ME. In fact, the interface resembles the somewhat old-school Windows 3.1 OS, giving it a retro feel.

Jason Johnson, lead user interface design engineer at Ford told The INQUIRER that the Focus is coming to the UK in 2012.

“Work needs to done on converting to 19 languages, as we have to test dialects. We’re also adapting the navigation for Europe and adding support for the Emergency Assistance feature,” he said.

Being a software guy, Johnson was able to dodge the question of how much the service will cost. It has been available for around $395 in the US as an optional extra, although it has also been included as a standard feature in some models. UK pricing will vary.

Check out The INQUIRER’s video demo of Ford Sync in action. µ

http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/review/2074992/hands-ford-focus-sync

Read more: http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/review/2074992/hands-ford-focus-sync#ixzz1PJqFv5Ev
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eMail: Live.GrandDrive@Gmail.com
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