Ford Sync at CES 2010 -- Very Slick, but iPhone Offers Only Partial Support

Microsoft and Ford were showing off the third version of Ford Sync at CES, and Casey and Phil from Android Central and I jumped in and got a demo. The good news is that it works great. It plays your music, makes your phone calls, and alert the authorities in case of accident, and more...

The bad news is the "and more" doesn't apply to iPhone and iPod touch owners since Apple hasn't properly implemented all the Bluetooth control protocols. Also, SMS to voice isn't implemented for the iPhone, and I'm guessing that has to do with the current SDK as well.

Still, the system looks slick and solid, supports multiple phones and music players, and lets you focus on your driving rather than fiddling with your devices. As more places make hands-free mandatory, it's also going to be increasingly important.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • This is only a matter of time. It will happen and work great. I'm just hoping 4.0 offers Maps with voice guided turn-by-turn directions and true REAL gps. I just got a Bluetooth system for my motorcycle helmet that works great with my music and phone. Next step would be directions...I hope.
  • I am tired of Apple iPhone not working with 3rd party BT products. This must be an Apple issue...what is taking them so damn long to fix it? It would be acceptable if Apple made a set of stereo BT headphones themselves, but they don't even do that.
    $500 and $140/month for a phone that doesn't allow me to adjust the volume or change tracks via BT. Unacceptable.
  • I am also tired that BT is not working with other products. Do you think that it is just a bug? I think they could fix it if they want!
    Greetings from Germany!
  • I use my 3GS with Sync in a 2009 Ford Escape. The phone portion works flawlessly. Music steams but you do have to change tracks on the iPhone. Usually I have hooked into the USB port anyways then you can change tracks from Ford's controls and it keeps the iPhone charged at the same time.
  • I have been told that the lack of BT functionality is due to Apple not allowing certain BT profiles (like AVRCP), but I don't have the first clue why that is.
    Rene, can you enlighten us (and also tell us the likelihood this gets fixed soon)? Thanks.
  • @Apple
    FIX THIS! ;)
  • First legit knock on Apple from CES. Too much attention focused in the 'ISlate' and not enough on the world it's supposed to exist in.
  • I have been told that the lack of BT functionality is due to Apple not allowing certain BT profiles (like AVRCP), but I don’t have the first clue why that is.
    Basically, Apple is paranoid about you getting anything onto the iphone which has not gone thru iTunes. Its part of their control-freak nature.
    Therefore, they have historically severely limited or ignored Bluetooth capability for fear you might actually use it to share media.
    I suspect Bluetooth in general is considered the red-headed-step-child around the development department, that has been ignored so long they no longer have any in-house capability to deal with it, and are totally dependent on their chip suppliers.
    Some thought that Apple took the low-bid approach to specing the phone and ended up with an incapable chipset. However that has proven not the case. The chipset is willing, but Apple is not.
    I believe they will be forced to step it up for the next iPhone.
  • Apple should loosen up on their Bluetooth restrictions.
    File sharing between two phones has been relatively important to me when I hard my older smartphones.
    Documents is one thing business users might be able to take advantage of when there's no data connection to email.
    Photos sharing via BT as well could be beneficial for the everyday user.
    I understand their reasons for not sharing music but everything else should be allowed.
    Them locking up their Bluetooth is stopping them from partisipsting in things like this.
  • BT file sharing could also help alleviate AT&T's congested data network. Not much but hey every little bit helps.
  • I have a 2009 Escape Hybrid and my iPhone works great with it for basic functionality, has the same exact functionality that my Blackberry Bolds did as well. Limited but does what you really need it to do (Make phone calls, sync contacts and recent calls and stream music over BT.). Love it! I wish it could do some of the other stuff, but looking at the Sync website a few weeks ago, there are not a ton of phones that utilize everything and have the Advance Certification so we're in the same boat as many others. Something really ODD to me is that even the Windows Mobile devices aren't advanced certified.
  • In my Ford, though I'm not sure which Ford Audio system it uses, my iphone automatically starts playing music over bluetooth when the bluetooth pairs. Except... my stereo can't play audio from bluetooth, except during calls. There are no options on iphone (or clearly stereo) to turn this very annoying and battery draining "feature" off.
    @ Apple. Fix This!
    Pretty sure the Nexus One won't do this. Every time I get in the car I need to bring up the ipod function and stop the music. Pointless, useless, irritating. Can't even see a solution in jailbreak tweaks.
  • Apple is very restrictive about how it allows other hardware and software to interact with the iPhone. For good reason! 1) the iPhone is NOT a computer, it can only handle a certain amount of functions at a time. 2) When you're cheap poorly built, third party hardware/software goes wonky, who are you going to blame? Not the third party. Apple. And Apple doesn't want that blame. I wouldn't. 3) SYNC is a Microsoft/Ford feature, not Apple's, and you're making this Apple's problem! See what I mean about #2?
    There are also a couple complaints in here that could be fixed by RTFM. It's usually in the glove box when you get the car.
  • Does anyone know where to get the Ford iPhone SDK at?
  • I have to say that for the past few of hours i have been hooked by the amazing articles on this website. Keep up the wonderful work.