Earlier in January, Ford released an updated version of SYNC Destinations at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). We were too busy covering the Detroit Auto Show to pay attention… but that doesn’t mean we’ve missed it completely.
For the uninitiated, SYNC Destinations is a mobile app that gives users access to the cloud-based SYNC Services. The app has allowed for the adding, saving, and managing destinations or Saved Points; the locations added via SYNC Destinations are then accessible through SYNC Services in the vehicle. Some may say that the app provides a mobile interface to the destinations aspect of SyncMyRide.com — and they’d be entirely accurate.
The updated SYNC Destinations app takes the functionality described above a step further by integrating with SYNC AppLink in the vehicle. For those not familiar with AppLink, it’s a SYNC component in the vehicle that allows drivers to access apps on their smartphone via voice commands. By integrating SYNC Destinations running on the user’s smartphone with AppLink, Ford has given drivers the ability to use the app while driving using simple voice commands. This integration between SYNC Destinations and AppLink means that the vehicle can use the smartphone’s high-speed data network to download turn-by-turn directions and destinations into the vehicle, among other things.
For instance, the user can speak the following commands to download voice-guided turn-by-turn directions to a saved destination.
- Mobile Apps
- SYNC Destinations
- Directions + Name of the saved destination
The updated app also allows drivers to get on-the-go traffic reports as well as report traffic incidents to share with the SYNC Destinations community. The user can speak the following prompt to get the fastest route to their destination:
- Mobile Apps
- SYNC Destinations
- Traffic to + Name of saved destination
This will prompt SYNC to provide a traffic report and ask whether the driver wants directions to that destination. Saying “yes” uploads the GPS location of the vehicle to the SYNC Services cloud, which calculates the route based on current traffic and other conditions, and then sends the results back down to SYNC.
The driver can also report an accident to SYNC using SYNC Destinations. Doing so sends the vehicle location data to the SYNC Services cloud where an accident report is created. This makes the accident available to other SYNC Destinations users, who are able to click on it and see details such as who reported it and the time of the accident.
Reporting accidents, in turn, creates a traffic community in the SYNC Services cloud and allows other drivers to request incident/traffic reports by saying “Incidents around me” to SYNC. This reports all known incidents and events around the vehicle.
Currently, SYNC Destinations is a free download for the iPhone. The app joins other AppLink-compatible apps including Pandora, Stitcher, Slacker Radio, and Open Beak. As of this writing, AppLink is available on ten model-year 2012 vehicles.
The Motrolix Take
Nowadays, most everyone who cares about uses SYNC most likely uses a smartphone. And what better way to introduce a data connection to the vehicle than to use that smartphone’s high-speed data connection? Doing so is purely genius, in our opinion.
Furthermore, integrating SYNC Destinations with AppLink and giving it the ability to download directions (again, using the smartphone’s data connection), was the next logic step, in our opinion. But it’s the traffic reporting component that blows our collective minds here at Motrolix. Allowing users to report accidents has the potential to create a self-updating, continuously up-to-date traffic community of sorts. If that’s not a brilliant way of utilizing modern technology, we don’t know what is.
At the end of the day, SYNC Destinations 2.0 and its integration with AppLink in the vehicle will deliver several real-world benefits: for starts, it will cut travel times and save drivers money by allowing them to use less fuel. And both of those benefits will result in a more enjoyable driving experience. Ford has just out-OnStared OnStar… with SYNC.