By Vincent Hennigan, Ford Sync Specialist
The focus of this workshop is simple – to get the most out of your Ford Sync music with the hands-free infotainment system found on most Fords – especially those built since 2010.
First, streamline the access to your music.
Yes, it’s true the iPhone has a port for recharging that has a USB plug on one end. You can plug it into a wall adapter to recharge the phone. You can plug the phone into a computer (by accessing iTunes) so you can back-up (sync) your files with the computer, install larger apps, move files (movies, photos) and/or charge the phone. You can push the “voice” button on the steering wheel and say Bluetooth. You can say, “Play,” “Shuffle,” or “Pause” but don’t ask the system to “Play Artist Rolling Stones.” You can plug your iPhone into the vehicle through the USB port, but don’t expect the system to find it by saying “Bluetooth Audio.” Also, don’t go to your phone’s screen and expect to be able to scroll through your playlists. The screen will not show any details, but you can (after you let the Sync system “index” your files for a few minutes) say, “Play Artist Rolling Stones” and have it locate and play all of your Stone’s tracks. So the moral of the story: Get a 4GB, 8GB, 16GB or larger USB jump drive and transfer all of your music files to the jump drive. Then plug this USB into your vehicles USB port. Then you can access the music by pushing the voice button and saying “USB.” Then you can use voice commands to search by song title or artist name. When you’re at BestBuy or other electronic store, you can find a USB charger that fits into your 12-volt charge port on your vehicle dash. This will charge your phone batteries faster than a stand USB connection. Also, if you have iTunes on your computer, you can play your CDs and let iTunes records the material into Mp3 or Mp4a format. Most store-bought CDs will transfer over artist information, such as song title, length of track, and so on through Gracenote® technology. Once you have recorded your music though iTunes it will be “searchable” through a system such as Ford’s Sync.
Second, remember “there’s an App for that!”
Sure, most new cars today offer a complimentary Sirius subscription. Droid- and iPhone-based systems allow installing downloadable apps. The Pandora App allows you to “build” radio stations (AKA streaming Bluetooth music) around a specific artist. You can build multiple stations and access them at will. So, if you’ve got Sync and a smartphone, then push the voice button on the steering wheel, say “Bluetooth Audio.” Then go to your phone and start up the Pandora App. Select your station and hit “play” on the phone handset, it will play through the vehicle’s sound system. You can push the radio’s hard buttons to access CD or AM or FM and to get back to Pandora, just push the AUX button. On some systems, the right-hand tuning knob on the radio has the symbols for Play and Pause. If you push the center of the tuning knob it will pause the Pandora music, push it again and it resumes playing. On some steering wheel controls, the bottom button on the right side of the steering wheel has a “hone” icon on the left side of the button and the word “OK” on the right side. If you’ve got this button, push the OK and it will pause the music on Pandora (or on your USB music, or on your CD music). Push the OK again and it will start playing the music again.
Third, need someone to talk to, ask your dashboard!
If you have an iPhone 4S paired to your vehicle, then you can push and hold the “home” button on the phone for a couple of seconds. The phone will chime and you will hear Siri, your digital assistant’s voice come over the vehicle sound system. You can then speak commands, such as “what is the weather like today?” or “Do I have any text messages?” Siri will access the information through your phone but speak it through your vehicle’s sound system. Asking Siri to send a text message this way is easy. You can tell her whom you want to send a message to. Then tell her what you want to say. She will repeat it back to you and ask if it is ok to send. Say “Yes” and she’ll send the voice-to-text message. This system actually works better than the voice-to-text system that is available on SYNC. That system only works on a few Droid phones and a Blackberry phone. Ford’s voice-to-text messaging does not work with iPhones.
Fourth, leave your CDs at home
Most vehicles have CD players, but they may be phased out over the next few years. It used to be we had to buy CD wallets to store the disks while we were driving. The amount of information on the songs that were playing was limited, so it was hard to find songs. A good Sync solution is to record your CDs through iTunes on your home computer or laptop. Then take 1GB, 2GB or larger USB sticks. Save your music on a variety of USB jump drives in any way you choose. Use each jump drive as one of your personal playlists. It livens up a long drive, especially if you push the voice button and say “Shuffle.” The system will repeat “Shuffle on” and at the end of the song will randomly pick the next song.
Five, isn’t it time for a phone upgrade?
One of the most obvious things about the Ford Sync system is that there are a ton of options of playing music stored on the phone, music streaming from apps, podcasts, books and more. However, if you still have a Nokia flip phone with the ear piece, then why not go all the way and upgrade. The Sync system works well with iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4S. It also works great with HTC One S, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, HTC Rezound, T-Mobile My Touch 4G Slide, Motorola Droid Razr Maxx, Samsung Epic Touch 4C, Motorola Droid Razr, Motorola Droid Bionic, Samsung Galaxy SII and the Evo 3D. There are a host of other phones that will work with Sync. It’s always a good idea to go this Phone Compatibility Chart to see how the phones will with the Sync system. Also, be sure to do your research on Ford’s Sync My Ride website.