We’ve all seen them — the people sitting in traffic, waiting for a turn, or (even worse), driving while texting. Luckily, Ford’s latest update to its SYNC infotainment and telematics system offers the ability to read text messages out loud, negating the need to look at the phone and, thus, take hands off the wheel and eyes off the road.
The update adds an emerging standard to SYNC’s Bluetooth functionality called Messages Access Profile, or MAP. The standard was built specifically for use in the hands-free automotive environment and outlines a set of features and procedures used to exchange email, SMS, and MMS between devices.
For those keeping track, Ford announced in 2011 plans to integrate MAP into SYNC for all 2011 model year MyFord Touch-equipped vehicles. The latest upgrade extends the protocol to the broader SYNC user community, including thousands of 2011 and 2012 vehicles equipped with the first-gen SYNC system.
Currently, only a limited amount of phones are compatible with MAP, but adoption of the protocol is seen to be increasing, with HTC, RIM, Samsung, and LG having recently become qualified manufacturers with the Bluetooth standards body. Luckily, most smartphones worth their monthly subscription fees should be able to support MAP via a software update to their Bluetooth stack, meaning that users won’t have to ditch their existing devices.
To find out if your SYNC-equipped vehicle is eligible for an available SYNC upgrade, visit the SYNC website. If an update is available, users can download it to a USB memory stick and plug it into their vehicle’s USB port for installation.