Siri and Sync – working together in your dashboard!

iPhone’s Siri and Ford’s Sync voice activated systems can learn to “play together” on your vehicle’s dashboard

By Vincent Hennigan
Technology Consultant

The iPhone’s Siri and “Samantha,” the voice Ford Sync, are working together in your dashboard!

The “voice” of Sync and Siri are bother developed by the Nuance software company. With the introduction of the iPhone 4S, the phone has offered an assistant by the name of Siri. With the iPhone 5S you could change the voice from a “her” to a “him.” Ford’s Microsoft Sync infotainment  system also uses the same woman’s voice and her code name in the development stages was Samantha. So Samantha, let’s meet Siri! It’s unusual when you start hearing multiple voices from your dashboard!

One of the biggest complaints about the iPhone and its use with Sync is its inability to do text-to-voice messaging. That is, until now. With a paired iPhone 4S or newer phone (with Siri) you can use Siri to read and to send text messages with voice commands. With a little “training” an iPhone user can get Siri to use the Sync system to “transmit” the message through the vehicle’s sound system. This creates a safer roadway when a driver can just listen to test messages rather than try to read one on their cell phone.

To get this to work, you should begin with a clean “paired” iPhone on a Ford Sync-equipped vehicle. Start by “pairing” your iPhone to any basic Sync, Sony touch-screen with Sync, MyFord or MyFord Touch system (on Fords installed with Sync systems from 2008 to 2015). With the car started, press and hold the Home button on the iPhone (located on the lower center of the phone’s screen) for a couple of seconds to “summon” Siri. You’ll hear a tone over your vehicle’s speakers (the Siri tone) and this opens the Bluetooth connection between the phone and Sync. You can then speak aloud to ask a question of Siri over the vehicle’s microphone and hear the response through the vehicles audio system. Refer to these for more ideas…

So, for now, iPhone users and Siri can bring voice-activated commands to higher level in Sync-equipped vehicles. Any time while driving you can press and hold the iPhone’s home button. When she responds, say “Send text message…” or “Read text messages.” Siri will prompt you to ask to whom or what number you want to send a text to. Siri will ask what you want to say… then speak your message. Siri will “read it back” to you. Then she will ask if it is OK to send, When you respond, she will send it.

So, do this responsibly. Keep your eyes and attention on the road, but remember, this is still considered “texting while driving” so be careful!

Try it. You’ll find that once you summon Siri, you can ask her to find a coffee shop, remind you of appointments, or what ever.

When you are done with Siri, press and hold the Phone icon on the steering wheel and it will “hang up” on Siri

As always, check every few weeks for an iPhone updates. And at least once a week, completely power down you iPhone for several minutes, then start if back up and let your system “reboot” before going to your vehicle. Visit the website for more information.

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8 thoughts on “Siri and Sync – working together in your dashboard!

  1. I have a 2011 Lariat and a iPhone 4 running iOS 5.0.1. I have iCloud and used itunes match to make sure I have access to over 20,000 songs. That’s great and all, except Sync will only play songs that have been downloaded locally. Is there any way to play songs from the iCloud using Sync?

    • I’ve seen a few reports of this on Apple blogs… iTunes can hold your libraries of music, regardless of the formats they are recorded in. Sync prefers the Mp3 and does play the Mp4a used by Apple, but the Sync protocol won’t see all of the songs purchased from Apple. Apple has some proprietary software in the file data that prevents it from being copies and played on other devices…. Maybe someday Apple will change its formatting. You could try to move songs through another recording software (Toast? or some other brand). Also, if you are registered on you can see if there are Sync Apps that would let you access more of your music.

  2. My iPhone 4s is paired with my Sync system but I can not hear over the speakers. There was an area I could choose to have iPhone play thru speakers but that has disappeared. My phone calls always show in privacy and I can not choose anything different.

    • Please complete a soft reset to your mobile phone by powering the phone down until the Apple logo appears. Then, power back up.
      Push the Phone icon on either steering wheel or dashboard (center console by radio), use the Tuning Knob or Seek Arrows to find the “Advanced”, push the OK button. Use tuning knob or seek arrows to go to Master Reset. Push OK and OK again to complete a master reset to the SYNC system.
      This should get everything back to spec… see if this will work for you.

  3. I have a 2010 Escape with Sync (non touch variety). I just bought an iPhone 4s through Sprint. I cannot get the system to recognize the phone. Help!

    • This sounds like a need for a “clean pairing.” Go to your vehicle and start it up. Turn on the radio. Push the phone icon on the center dash. When it comes up with Phone Redial, then turn the tuning know until it says System Settings. Push OK. Turn the tuning knob until it reads Bluetooth Devices. Push OK. Turn the knob until it reads delete devices. Push OK.
      Go to your iPhone, to Settings, to General, to Bluetooth, if you see under the heading Devices a Sync tab, then press the blue arrow, when the second page comes up, push “Forget This Device.” Return to your dash, turn the knob until it says Return, then push OK. Turn the knob until it says “Bluetooth Devices” or “Add Device”, then push OK, the system will prompt with “Push OK to being Pairing a Phone.” Then push OK. Go to your phone and when the tab for Sync appears in the Bluetooth Devices area, push the tab and a second screen will appear, enter the 6-digit PIN that is appearing on the dashboard LED screen, then hit “Pair” on your phone. Within a few seconds, the vehicle system should acknowledge the pairing. If not, try again on the phone. Once everything is paried, then push OK to allow for turning 911 Assist to “On.” And for “Downloading Phonebook.” Push OK and it make take a few minutes for the phonebook to downloaded. Once the LED screen returns to Phone Redial, press and hold the Phone icon on the dash for about five seconds. Your phone will be paired and ready to make and receive phone calls at this point.

  4. I have a 2008 Explorer and I just bought an iPhone 4s. Everything has sync’ed fine except I lose the sound a few seconds after starting the engine. It shows my songs are playing on the display, but there is no music coming through the speakers after about 5 seconds. Have you heard about this? Is there a fix?

    • Well, my first guess is that your Sync system is essentially version 1 and there was not an upgrade available that could bring it up to the level of the iPhone 4S (which should be using Apple iOS 5.0.1). It might be easier to transfer your music from iTunes (or Windows Media Player), or what ever sound software you’d like, over to a USB jump drive and use that. But I think maybe in 2008 the system only had a 1/8″ mp3 player jack. You could try a hard reboot. Search for that elsewhere on my blog. Let me know…

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