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Ford: New Control Systems, Second-Gen Sync Due In Summer

4/01/2010 02:46:26 PM Eastern

New York - Aftermarket installers will get their first look this summer at Ford's second-generation Sync system and new MyFord Touch user interface.
During the New York Auto show, Ford said it plans summertime availability of the systems in the 2011-model-year Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX. When the systems were unveiled at January's Intentional CES, Ford would say only that the two vehicles would be available with the systems sometime this calendar year.
MyFord Touch features an 8-inch color touchscreen in the dash, dual 4.2-inch color LCD displays flanking the speedometer, and two five-way rocker switches on the steering wheel, all to control entertainment, navigation and climate-control systems. The second-generation Sync, like it predecessor, delivers voice control over a vehicle's entertainment systems, Bluetooth-connected cellphones for hands-free calling, and USB-connected MP3 players. But the second-generation system will add voice control over more functions, including climate-control systems, and adds such features as GPS navigation and mobile Wi-Fi hot spot capability.
Separately, Ford provided additional details about its new Sync and MyFord Touch systems, about previously announced plans to offer factory-installed HD Radio for the first time in calendar 2010, and about Sync-system control of an Internet-music app and other apps installed on Bluetooth-connected smartphones.
In HD Radio developments, the company said HD Radio will be part of a voice-activated navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen available as an option in 2011-model-year Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models. The navigation option will be available in most vehicles, a spokesman said.
Previously, Ford offered HD Radio only as a dealer-installed option across the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury lines.
HD Radio will also be part of a package incorporating second-generation Sync systems and MyFord Touch systems. The package will be available in three of four 2011 Ford Edge trim levels and the 2011 Lincoln MKZ. The package won't be available in the base Edge SE but will be optional in the SEL and standard in the Limited and Sport trim levels. The package will also be standard in the Lincoln MKX.
These vehicles will be Ford's first to offer HD Radio with iTunes tagging.
Although the base SE will lack Sync, touchscreen and HD Radio options, it will come with a scaled-back MyFord interface as standard equipment. That interface includes two five-way rocker switches in the steering wheel and two 4.2-inch color touchscreens, one near the vehicle's speedometer and the other in the dash between the driver and passenger. Neither screen is a touchscreen.
The step-up Edge SEL also comes standard with the MyFord interface, but the MyFord Touch interface and Sync will be available as options.
MyFord Touch, in contrast, features a total of three color LCD screens and will be standard on the Edge Limited and Sport. MyFord Touch features two 4.2-inch color screens mounted near the speedometer, an 8-inch color LCD screen with touchscreen capability mounted in the dash between the driver and passenger.
As for Internet radio, the company said existing first-generation Sync systems later this year will be able to use Bluetooth to control -- not just stream audio from -- select Internet apps on Blackberry and Android smartphones.
The first three smartphone apps capable of being controlled from Sync systems will be Pandora's Internet music-streaming app, Stitcher's Internet news and podcast app, and OpenBeak's Twitter-streaming app with text-to-voice conversion. Pandora, Stitcher and OpenBeak will make their apps controllable from a Sync system by releasing Sync-enabled updates for over-the-air downloading. Other Sync-controlled apps for the two smartphone operating systems might also be available at that time. Versions of the apps for Apple iPhones are planned at an unspecified date.
Second-generation Sync systems will also control the new smartphone apps.
Like the first-generation Sync system launched in October 2007 on the Ford Focus, the second-generation Sync system delivers voice control over a vehicle's entertainment systems, Bluetooth-connected cellphones for hands-free calling, and USB-connected MP3 players.
The second-generation Sync system, however, will extend voice control to additional functions, including climate-control functions for the first time. It will also feature two USB ports instead of one, and it will add an SD card slot, RCA A/V inputs and Wi-Fi, which turns a vehicle into a mobile hot spot when a cellular USB modem is inserted. The next-gen system also adds built-in GPS, enabling drivers to use Ford's currently available Traffic, Directions, Information (TDI) service. When accessed via Sync through a voice call from any Bluetooth-equipped cellphone, the TDI service delivers turn-by-turn driving instructions (with street-name announce) and local point-of-interest (POI) search results in a synthesized human voice. The service is free for the first three years and costs $60/year after that.
A Sync system with MyFord Touch turns into a full-blown turn-by-turn navigation system with the insertion of an optional SD card equipped with maps, routing algorithm, and POI database. Maps appear on the MyFord Touch's 8-inch touchscreen, Voice guidance is provided as well. The Navigation car will be priced at less than $1,000, the company said.
Sirius satellite radio is also available with MyFord and Sync, as well as the display of album cover art, photos and video stored on a connected MP3 player or SD Card.

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