New SYNC Software Update Adds Bluetooth MAP Standard

Ford introduces new MAP standards for voice-to-text messaging in the vehicle, however iPhone needs to follow suit and update as well...

Ford released Oct. 18, 2011 its latest free SYNC® software update, G1 V3.2.2, to give more SYNC users the ability to have text messages read aloud to them while driving.

The update allows expanded text-to-voice features with HTC, RIM, Samsung and LG phones. Ford has put the update info out there for other phone manufacturers to integrate into their systems. Since a huge portion of the smartphone “public” uses Apple iPhones, we are awaiting word when Apple will update its OS. The latest version iOS 5 has not intergrated the MAP system so it fully works with SYNC in the voice-to-text feature area.

Tailored for owners of select SYNC-equipped 2011 and early-release 2012 vehicles, the update includes the emerging Message Access Profile (MAP) Bluetooth® standard, which is custom-made for the automotive hands-free environment and outlines a set of features and procedures used to exchange email, SMS and MMS between devices – in this case SYNC and the smartphone.

Last year, Ford announced it was voluntarily integrating MAP into SYNC for all 2011 MyFord Touch®-equipped vehicles and is now extending the capability to the broader SYNC user community – with thousands of 2011 and 2012 vehicles equipped with the first generation SYNC system. This upgrade should affect SYNC users with 2011 F-150 trucks, some Escapes, Fusions, Mustangs and Expeditions.

“A limited population of phones has the capability to work with the text message readback feature of SYNC,” said Mark Porter, supervisor of SYNC Product Development. “With our initial adoption of MAP for our latest generation of SYNC and our recent efforts to integrate it into our previous variations of the system, we hope we are setting an example that encourages more collaboration between Ford, the phonemakers and the wireless industry to help drivers find smarter alternatives to hand-held texting while on the road.”

According to Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), MAP adoption by mobile device manufacturers is still in its infancy but the growth needle is starting to quiver.

“Texting is becoming a ubiquitous part of our day, so it stands to reason the remote message access profile is an essential addition for handsets, automobiles, headsets and aftermarket car kits,” said Michael Foley, Ph.D., executive director Bluetooth SIG. “The Bluetooth MAP standard gives users the ability to simply and smartly manage incoming text messages from their vehicle while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. We are seeing significant uptake in MAP adoption among phonemakers, in particular with recent qualifications from manufacturers such as HTC, RIM, Samsung and LG.”

Since SYNC launched in 2007, Ford has offered several significant and simple software-based updates. And owners are taking advantage, with software downloads recorded on www.syncmyride.com ranging up to nearly 14,000 each month in 2011.

Major SYNC updates that have been released to date include:

  • G1 V2.0 – availability of 911 Assist™ and Vehicle Health Report for 2008 SYNC-equipped vehicles (dealership installation required) (December 2008)
  • G1 V3.0/V3.1 – availability of SYNC Services for Traffic, Directions and Information services for 2010 SYNC-equipped vehicles (June 2009)
  • G1 V3.2 –  improved voice command structure, constant display of turn-by-turn directions and GPS coordinates for 911 Assist for 2011 SYNC-equipped vehicles (April 2010)
  • G1 V4.0 – AppLink™ software application for hands-free voice control of smartphone apps for the 2011 Ford Fiesta only (December 2010)
  • G1 V3.2.2 (non-AppLink)/V4.0.2 (AppLink-equipped) – increased MAP support for select 2011 and early-release 2012 SYNC-equipped vehicles with AppLink such as Ford Mustang (May 2011)

Ford owners interested in finding out if their SYNC-equipped vehicle is eligible for any of the available SYNC updates can visit www.syncmyride.com and enter their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). If eligible, owners can simply download the update to a USB memory stick and bring into their vehicle for installation through SYNC’s USB port.

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2 thoughts on “New SYNC Software Update Adds Bluetooth MAP Standard

  1. We have a serious texting while driving epidemic in the U.S. I commend Ford for this feature; receiving a message through your speakers beats fiddling with your phone any day. However, I think the ideal scenario would be to just drive without any distractions period including mental ones. Personally I find even Bluetooth distracting because you’re still mentally not focused on driving.

    • I hear you! However, this is the world that we live in (and have created). I have ridden a Harley and I have to say that when you’re riding a bike, you have to take the stance that a) no on can see you, b) cars will pull out in front of you, c) cell phone users and texters are coming for you! It keeps you on your toes when you’re driving in those conditions. Sad, but it’s like that for car and truck drivers as well. Several automobile engineering teams are working on robotic driving. Someday we may choose to let Ford do the driving while we attend to other things…

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