Using Apple iPhone Music with iOS5 with Ford Sync

New Apple software upgrades still haven't allowed the iPhone all of its potential functionality with Ford's Sync system.

Getting used to the new Apple iOS 5 is the newest “game in town” when it comes to using your Ford Microsoft Sync system.

Before even downloading the new OS onto your iPhone 3GS or 4, Apple requires you to update your host computer’s software for Apple iTunes. Be sure to back up your phone contacts (it’s easiest to use contacts from Microsoft Outlook). Be sure to back up all of the music on your iPhone. Be sure to back up any apps, podcast, videos, sound files and photos as well. The installation of Apple iOS 5 will cancel out your phone’s contacts and music storage for sure. So, after installing the OS 5, take the time to put everything back. You will have the opportunity to op into using the iCloud for storage. You will want to consider this. When you sign up for iCloud, you automatically get 5GB of free storage. And that’s plenty of room, because of the way iCloud stores your content. Your purchased music, apps, books, and TV shows, as well as your Photo Stream, don’t count against your free storage. Since your mail, documents, Camera Roll, account information, settings, and other app data don’t use as much space, you’ll find that 5GB goes a long way. And if you need more storage, you can easily purchase a storage upgrade right from your device.

So after downloading the OS 5, take a USB iPhone cable to your car. When you plug in your iPhone into the USB port, allow a few minutes for the Sync system to acknowledge the iPhone. It will begin indexing the music. Select either the music on your iPhone or a program like Pandora, Stitcher or iHeartRadio. Push the “Voice” button on your steering wheel and say “Bluetooth Audio.”  Look at your iPhone’s screen, in the lower center it may show the word ”Sync” if you touch it, you will have the choice to select “Dock Connection,” select that. When you are playing from your stored Music you can push the Voice button, you can call out “Play Artist The Beatles.”  Or you could say, “Play Song Let It Be.”

For those of you who want the most out of your Sync system, be sure you have an account set up at Some of you may be eligible to download a new version of Sync software onto a USB and install it into your vehicle. For HTC, Droid, RIM, Samsung and LG phone users the new update allows for voice-to-text messaging. 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.

For the iPhone OS 5 users, you can still stream music, Pandora, Stitcher or iHeartRadio via Bluetooth, but you won’t have the ability to call out Artists or Song Title by name. Stay tuned for more updates on iPhone compatibility with Ford’s Sync.

As a note, some of you may have to delete your iPhone from the Sync system, and delete Sync from your Bluetooth profile and “Re-pair” your phone to the Sync system to get the best functionality. See the website for more details on doing a “clean pairing.”

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14 thoughts on “Using Apple iPhone Music with iOS5 with Ford Sync

  1. has anyone figured out how to get the album art and contact pics to show up? I just bought a 2011 ford edge, and can’t get it to work. Voice commands suck as usual. They work great when the dealer is showing you, but once you leave the lot, they automatically suck!

    • I’ve heard that the software that handles the transferrence of album art is GraceNote Technologies. They may need to release an update (for your phone) to help with that artwork. The other part of that is contact pics, and I’ve heard that Apple controls the software that allows that info to be attached and connected to your phone contact. It is possible to get those contacts onto the Sync system display, but, as of yet, I have not heard that this issue has been resolved. I will have to investigate to see what the progress is… more on this as the story develops.

  2. If I understood the article correctly I should be able to stream music via Bluetooth from my iPhone 4 (OS5) to my 2012 Explorer. Yet I can not do so and my dealer is stumped. At delivery everything worked as it should. Sync stopped recognizing the streaming function of my phone yet the telephone function was fully functional. I returned to the dealer twice. Each time they disconnected / reconnected the battery and reset Sync and paired my phone. Each time things worked for a couple of hours the. Stopped recognizing my phone for streaming purposes. The dealer said that they expect new software for Sync that will fix my issue. The dealer information and this post are in conflict and I am caught in the middle. Oh, my phone works perfectly with my 2011 Mustang GT. Help please. Carl

    • Carl, you’re right, the system in your Mustang GT works differently and pairs well with iPhones — and the functionality of the overall system does less than the Explorer’s. The Explorer’s issue revolves around the APIM. This is the accessory protocol interface manager. Imagine your home computer allowing you to listen to music, handle the fan and temperature control of your house, give you directions, let you change from eight different sources — not only with buttons, but buttons and controls from two different places, plus touch screen, plus voice control. And, handle a few different languages… Still, on top of this, Apple’s protocol for messaging and Bluetooth can and will conflict with the Sync system… this is why Ford and Microsoft are rewriting the entire graphic user interface with its next upgrade. You will get a new system. And by all accounts, the new system will work with more stability. The MyFord Touch system is starting to resemble Windows Vista in the way it was received and used by the public a few years back. And, by the way, Ford tells me that plugging your iPhone in with a USB cord will allow playing the music, albeit in a more clunky way, but it will play. Also, have you got the wi-fi function turned off on your iPhone?

  3. I too am having issues with iOS 5. When I have my iPhone 4 plugged in via USB I can play music until i get interrupted by a phone call or by shutting off my F150. To get the two to talk again I have to power down my iPhone, then all works as normal again until an interruption.

    I also have issues with not Pairing randomly for use for phone calls. I have to go into settings and manually select SYNC under bluetooth.

    Any ideas?

    • Apple is working on another minor update to the iOS 5. One came out just today that may or may not have an affect. I always use the Voice button to command “Bluetooth audio” to get music from my iPhone. I don’t use the USB cord any more… I recharge on my host computer. That way the APIM (accessory protocol interface manager) doesn’t have to fight so hard to get the music and the phone calls to work.

  4. I have a 2010 escape and I can not get the SYNC to get TXT messages. When I check the “recent messages” on the SYNC it displays the incomming message and the TEXT light comes on to indicate it was a txt message. If the SYNC can determine if the message was a call or a txt why can’t I get txt messages? Is this something that will be coming soon??? I gave up my DROID X2 because of all the problems I was having. It worked well with the SYNC.

    • So Chris, tell me, when a text message alert comes in, how do you respond? Also, when you paired your phone (can I assume it was an Android based phone/) did you pair it using the 4-digit PIN and not the standard 6-digit PIN? Have you updated to the newest Sync software for the 2010 Escape, or can you tell me which version is currently installed? Your music will mute down, your phone will ring if it is a phone call… if it is a text, you will have the music momentarily mute and you will hear a tone, and that is all… let me know

  5. Thanks HenniganV… I am using an Iphone 4G iOS5 and it was paired using the 6digit number provided by the SYNC. When connected bia Blue tooth the phone functions work correctly, and the music also works correctly. When I get a TXT, since the audio is now turned off on the Iphone, all I get is the vibrations of the phone. If not for this I would not know I had a TXT. Last night I used my phone (in “Private Mode”) and the little Icon showing thaat the SYNC was detecting a call was taking place and the “TEXT” Icon was also displayed. When I get a call when in music mode, the music mutes. If I get a TXT in music Mode, it does not mute. I have also attempted to contact the Apple people and they advise that it is a SYNC problem and they have no knowledge of SYNC. When I attempted to contact the SYNC people they advise that it is an Apple problem. Thus we now start the Merry-Go-Round effect!!!! I guess I would like to know if there is a fix for this SOMEWHERE in the works soon? Thanks for your help!!! It;s nice to know someonw is out there interested!!!

  6. I have a 2010 Ford Fusion and an iPhone 3gs with latest iOS 5.1(?) Sync was updated at the dealership but it stops working. Once they told me to use Bluetooth only to stream audio from the iPhone. Another time they told me I must use usb and never the Bluetooth. Last time at the dealership they were back to “use Bluetooth only.” What to do? Dync will stop giving me directions in the middle of a direction & just stopped working.

    • Sounds like the need for a clean pairing. Go to your phone settings, to General, to Bluetooth, and push the blue arrow on the sync button, on the following sub-menu tell it to “forget device.” Go to the phone settings on your vehicle (when turned on and in park) and go to System Settings, BT devices and then Delete Devices… select the iPhone to Delete and push the OK button. To be in the best spot, delete all devices. Now, turn your Phone Menu to “Add BT Device.” Hit OK and push OK to begin pairing a device. Go to your phone and when the Sync button reappears, push it and when the secondary screen appears, then enter the 6-digit PIN displaying on your vehicle dashboard. Push OK when it asks if this is the Primary Phone, and push OK again to confirm downloading the Phonebook. Add any additional phones or devices back into your vehicle’s Sync system.
      When finished, you should be able to push the “Voice” button on the steering wheel and say “Bluetooth Audio.” Give Sync a few moments, and it should start playing (streaming) music from your phone. Use the “Back” and “Forward” arrows on your steering wheel (or on the dash) to move the song to the beginning or jump to the next song. If you want to play an App (like Pandora) then go to your phone and start the App. select the “station” or artist you want to play, and the App music will be playing over the sound system. I would recommend to rarely plug your phone into USB to access music. The new iOS 5.1 upgrade doesn’t allow much flexibility. The Sync system would “recognize” a plugged in device from USB and treat it differently. It would first “index” the music and start allowing the playing of music after several minutes (or longer depending on the amount of songs you have.)
      Also, do you have an account on If so, log in and be sure you’re subscription is current. Then check to see if the Sync version on your Fusion is current. This should address the Sync Services issue.
      And, about once a week. Completely power down your iPhone and let it sit for a minute or two, then power it up again. This resets your phone settings.
      I hope this helps… and always, be sure to check with your Ford dealership Service Department for further assistance.

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  8. I have an F150 2012 and an iPhone 5 with the ¡OS upgrade. I put in the USB cord and push ALT. Eight times out ten it does nothing. Silence. I don’t know why it sometimes works, but it’s very frustrating. And sometimes when it does play, it just stops for no disernable reason. Help!

    • I wish I was there to show you… but if you plug in your phone. Go to the steering wheel Voice button, push it and say “USB.” The system responds, “USB, state your command.” Then say, “Play”, “Play All”, “Play Artist Lady Gaga,” “Play Song Freebird”
      If you plug in your USB and then go to the Alt, You still have to push the double arrow buttons to move to a song, or push the center of the right hand radio knob (it’s the play/pause button) for toggle control….
      Paste this URL in your browser to see more…
      I hope this helps….

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