Wish you had a way of monitoring incoming text messages without taking your eyes off the wheel? Ford may have the answer -- the automaker announced a new update for its Sync system that allows more cars to read incoming text messages aloud.
If the feature sounds familiar, it should -- after all, one of the original calling cards of the first-generation Sync system was its ability to read incoming SMS messages aloud. However, the feature's compatibility was limited to a small number of specific smartphones. Owners who used a different mobile device were effectively left out in the cold.
Ford took steps to address that when creating the MyFord Touch and the second-generation Sync systems, by supporting the Bluetooth Message Access Profile standard. This standard allows phone and accessory manufacturers to create devices that can exchange email, SMS, and MMS messages between one another. In this case, the in-car infotainment system can read aloud incoming text messages received by a connected smartphone.
The big news, however, is that Ford is working to retrofit Bluetooth MAP support into older vehicles fitted with Sync. Owners of 2011 and 2012 Ford vehicles that are still fitted with first-generation Sync systems are allegedly able to upgrade their system to incorporate the MAP standard, and enable text-to-speech support for incoming text messages.
"A limited population of phones has the capability to work with the text message readback feature of Sync," Mark Porter, supervisor of Sync product development, said in a recent press release. "With our adoption of MAP for our latest generation of Sync and our 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 phone makers, and the wireless industry to help drivers find smarter alternatives to hand-held texting while on the road."
We hope it also leads Ford to develop further support for the MAP standard itself. We'd love to hear Sync read our incoming emails aloud as well, but we'd also love the ability to send messages using voice commands -- something that isn't a complete impossibility given the flexibility of the MAP standards
For software downloads, or to find out if your Sync-equipped Ford is eligible for an update, visit www.syncmyride.com