Tags Posts tagged with "Sync"

Sync

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Spotify has made the jump to the  car dashboard thanks to a partnership with Ford.
The music streaming  service will be available through the stereo system in new Ford vehicles via the car manufacturer’s SYNC AppLink platform.
Motorists in the US and Europe will be able to control the Spotify mobile  application through vocal commands, accessing playlists and adjusting volume  settings.
Ford-Spotify
“SYNC AppLink opens up a whole new world of content to Ford customers that they can access on the move by voice control while keeping their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road,” said Ford’s Paul Mascarenas.”As one of the world’s most popular music streaming services, Spotify is  the perfect partner to demonstrate the benefits of the Ford SYNC AppLink system.”Kaliki Audio Newsstand, Glympse and Aha were also confirmed as SYNC AppLink partners at the Mobile World Congress.SYNC AppLink will be  exclusive to new Ford cars at launch, but it is estimated that the technology  will come built-in to 3.5 million Ford vehicles in Europe by 2015.

 

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Spoilt for Choice

SugarSync LogoIn the last twelve months or so, there has been an explosion in the number of cloud hosting and synchronisation services available. At CDW, we use them regularly and have tried all the big names. SugarSync is one of our favourites. Before I explain what SugarSync offers, I’ll do a quick aside for those of you whose brain is currently saying something like:
[quote style="boxed"]“People keep talking about the ‘Cloud’. Clouds make rain and funny shapes. What’s that got to do with the internet?”[/quote]

Dan’s Cloud Primer

“Cloud” is a buzz-word in internet technology right now. Many companies are using it as a synonym for the internet, but really it refers to the idea that the user experience shouldn’t be based on which computer or device they are using, but should follow them around. Users should be able to move from their desktop to their tablet to their phone and access the same information and services, particularly their own files and documents. Cloud-hosting services such as SugarSync, Dropbox, SkyDrive and Google Drive aim to make all your important files available to all your devices automatically, and also via their webpage. This means that no matter where you are, you can get to your stuff. Left your laptop at home? No problem, you can still get that important report you’ve been working on, or show those photos to your friends that you promised to bring.  The other bonus is that if you lose all your devices, you know your precious (sometimes irreplaceable) files are safely backed up on the provider’s servers.  When you get a new device, you just install the app and login, and your files will be synced automatically onto the new device.

Many of the services also offer features like version control, shared folders, and integration with social media. So don’t be intimidated by the “cloud” – it’s a great tool for both your personal life and work.

 

…and back to SugarSync…

Feature-rich

All the cloud storage services offer the same basic features, so it’s their advanced features that make them stand out (or not). SugarSync have obviously thought very carefully about how their users will use the service, and what features they would find useful. SugarSync’s more advanced features include:

  • Backup of ANY folder on your computer (many services are more limited)
  • Version control up to five past versions, with restore ability
  • Upload via email
  • More unusual platforms and plugins, such as Kindle Fire, Symbian and Outlook supported
  • Shared folder permissions

For a more comprehensive comparison of SugarSync’s services compared to other providers, see this table: https://www.sugarsync.com/sync_comparison.html

Security

You might be thinking that you don’t want someone else to be handling all your important files.  Are the CIA going through them?  Have the company sold your details to other companies?  It’s always worth reading the privacy policies for services like these ones.  In terms of security, SugarSync stack up well.  Your data is stored encrypted with AES (that’s good), and all transactions with SugarSync use TLS – that’s the newer, better replacement for HTTPS (the thing that gives you the ‘padlock’ in Internet Explorer).  This means that your files are only unencrypted at your devices, or when you share a file with someone via a link.

Multimedia Specialist

SugarSync have paid particular attention to how their service handles pictures, music and movie files.  You can share a photo album with friends by sending them a link via email, SMS, or many social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.  Your friends don’t even need a SugarSync account to view the photos (or any other files you might share).  The service also allows you to post photos directly to Facebook.

Earn Extra Space While You Learn

With any service or tool there’s a learning curve to get the most out of it, and SugarSync is no exception.  However, their website (especially) is very clearly laid out and offers very useful tips on what’s going on and how to do things.  The mobile app has the same information, but is more basic-looking, as you’d expect.  SugarSync even includes a series of introduction tutorial-like activities that you can complete to get extra free storage using the website interface.  There are additional tasks to complete for the mobile app.  If you get some of your friends switched on to SugarSync, you can earn several gigabytes of free extra space.
If you don’t know anyone who uses SugarSync already, by all means use my referral link, and we’ll both get extra space: Join SugarSync Here. Don’t worry – I won’t be able to see any of your files.

SugarSync Earn Screen

Pricing

You can get a 5GB account (plus any extra you earn) for absolutely nothing, free, gratis, zero.  If you need more space, you can buy subscriptions:

  • 30GB for $4.99/month or $49.99/year
  • 60GB for $9.99/month or $99.99/year
  • 100GB for $14.99/month or $149.99/year
  • 250GB for $24.99/month or $249.99/year
  • 500GB for $39.99/month or $399.99/year (special offer correct at time of writing)

There are also plans available for businesses.

Verdict

We love SugarSync. It’s feature-rich and easy to use – no mean feat! We award SugarSync our 5/5 Gold Award for Excellence.

Microsoft have updated SkyDrive giving you the ability to select which folders to sync. Not only that but they have also updated their Windows Phone 8 and Android apps.hero_image

This is what Microsoft posted on their blog:

About 6 months ago, we released the first sync apps for SkyDrive making it easy to view and manage your personal SkyDrive from the File Explorer in Windows and Finder in OS X.  We’re excited to announce that since then, you have put more and more of your files into your own SkyDrive and in the last 6 months, you’ve doubled the amount of SkyDrive storage being used.

We’re both humbled and excited by this pace of growth.  While many of you have told us that you love being able to have everything in one place and access it from anywhere, you’ve also said that sometimes you want to be more selective with the files you sync to each device.  So today, we’re releasing an update to our sync apps that includes the ability to select what you sync along with the ability to share files and folders right from the Windows File Explorer.  In addition, we’ve just released a few updates to the SkyDrive apps for Windows Phone and Android improving how you access your SkyDrive across different devices.  Between these updates and the way SkyDrive comes with Windows 8 and the new Office, we’re excited to see how fast your SkyDrive storage usage will grow in the next 6 months.

Select what to sync

With today’s release, you can now select which folders from SkyDrive are synced – making it easier to use SkyDrive with laptops or tablets with small drives. You’re in control. If you’d like to keep all your photos and documents in SkyDrive but only sync a folder of your most important documents to your laptop, you can do that – even if your desktop is syncing the full set. You can choose specific sub-folders to sync as well; you aren’t limited to your primary SkyDrive folders.

This feature is super simple to set up. You can set it up when you first install SkyDrive on your PC or Mac or later, when you’re already running SkyDrive.

Updates to SkyDrive apps for Windows Phone 8 and Android devices

A few days ago, just in time for the U.S. launch of Windows Phone 8, we released a fully optimized SkyDrive app for Windows Phone 8. In addition to all-around performance improvements and some visual updates to better fit Windows Phone 8, you can now search your SkyDrive files and folders and control photo upload and download size. Check it out:

Screen shots of SkyDrive Search and Settings menus

SkyDrive for Android also added several new features in addition to performance improvements:

  • Upload all file types from SD card
  • Rename SkyDrive folders & files
  • Custom sort orders for every view

Do you use SkyDrive? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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Last year I spent time at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn. One of things I saw was MyFord Touch. Late last year Ford announced upgrades to MyFord Touch and starting this week they are shipping.

MyFordTouch_Sirius_Radio-screen_thum

Ford is delivering on the promise of the “Upgradeable Car” –  more than 300,000 current MyFord Touch owners will be receiving upgrade packages in the mail this week that include a USB flash drive with updated software for at-home installation, all free of charge.

The MyFord Touch upgrade provides an improved user experience based on feedback from owners, dealers and employees and includes simpler graphics and text, faster touch screen response and better phone pairing and compatibility. In addition, Ford continues to migrate MyFord Touch across its product line; the 2013 Ford Taurus and Ford Flex will be the first two of seven new models launching this year with the new system

New features

Ford also took the opportunity to update the performance of the system and add new features for customers to help them keep pace with the fast-moving consumer electronics market.

Faster touch-screen response time, for example, was a key request from owners. Initial testing shows that touch and voice response is at least two times faster than the current system.

Also, the software upgrade includes the following enhancements:

· Improved voice recognition experience powered by Nuance

– Quicker voice recognition upon startup and faster command prompt when the voice button is pushed

– Voice commands used in conjunction with navigation are simplified through elimination of the need to provide street direction, e.g., “Main Street” instead of “North Main Street”

– Music requests are simpler by removing the need to include the additional song, album or artist information often found at the end of a name in (parenthesis) or [brackets]

– Customers can find their favorite sports team in action via new Sirius Game Finder simply by saying a command such as “Tune to Detroit Lions game”

· Tablet device compatibility

– Music and other media content from most popular tablet computers like the Apple iPad can now be accessed through a simple USB connection

· Audible.com audiobook support

– Listen to Audible.com content using voice commands or the easy-to-use touch-screen controls

· Connected navigation powered by TeleNav features new map data by NAVTEQ

– Updated map views are richer and feature more 3D landmarks

– Views of freeway junctions and signs are enhanced through photorealistic screen images

– Smart routing options are provided based on a database of historical traffic patterns

· Phone compatibility

– Automatic Bluetooth® connection upon vehicle entry has been improved

– Noise and echo cancelation during phone calls has been improved to enhance call quality

· Gracenote® album cover art database

– Inclusion of the latest music metadata available enhancing the music playback experience

– Improved voice recognition for music search allowing drivers to pinpoint artists with hard-to-pronounce names or nicknames

MyFordTouch_Climate_Seats_thumbMyFordTouch_ClimateSeats-screen_thumMyFordTouch_Home_thumbMyFordTouch_Home-screen_thumbMyFordTouch_Nav_Map_thumbMyFordTouch_Nav_Map-screen_thumbMyFordTouch_Phone_CallProgress_thumbMyFordTouch_Phone_CallProgress-scree[1]

And a short video showing it as well:

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The B-MAX will be the first vehicle in Europe to feature SYNC, Ford’s voice-activated in-car connectivity system, the company has revealed after unveiling the all-new car at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Photograph by Tim Bishop/Ford of Europe

SYNC already features on 4 million cars in the U.S., and its introduction to Europe in one of the most affordable vehicles in Ford’s European range will help take the company a significant step further towards its target of 13 SYNC million customers by 2015. In total, Ford expects to have more than 3.5 million SYNC-enabled vehicles on the roads of Europe by 2015.

“The all-new Ford B-MAX is at the forefront of Ford’s plans to deliver SYNC to customers in Europe for the first time, and is the perfect vehicle for the job,” said Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe.
Ford’s Emergency Assistance feature alerts local emergency services operators after an accident, in the correct language for the region, and is the most advanced system of its type. It will be available in more than 30 countries across Europe and beyond.

During the development of the Emergency Assistance feature Ford worked with the European Emergency Number Association (EENA), gaining valuable input into the system design. The EENA aims to ensure a consistently high level of response to 112 emergency number calls across Europe.

“We are pleased that Ford has consulted with the EENA and European emergency call centres in the development of the Emergency Assistance feature,” said Gary Machado, executive director of the EENA.

“We are confident that solutions enabling vehicles to be connected to emergency call centres will contribute to saving lives in Europe.”

The activation of an airbag or the vehicle’s emergency fuel pump shut-off prompts the vehicle to initiate an emergency call, using a pre-recorded message, through the occupant’s Bluetooth connected mobile phone. The message is transmitted in the appropriate local language based on the GPS coordinates of the vehicle.

“Ford’s Emergency Assistance feature will deliver significant additional peace-of-mind to B-MAX customers,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford’s chief technical officer and vice president, Research and Innovation. “It will also do so at no extra cost to the user for the lifetime of the vehicle and without requiring a subscription or registration, unlike competitor systems.”

SYNC can also read aloud incoming SMS text messages from compatible mobile phones. It works with a variety of digital music players, including iPod and USB flash drives. The system automatically updates phonebook entries, while audio files can be browsed by genre, artist, album, song and playlist using simple voice commands. The USB port also enables the implementation of software upgrades for future enhancements and features.

Developed in association with speech technology specialist Nuance, SYNC will initially support UK English, EU French, EU Spanish, EU Portuguese, German, Italian, Turkish, Dutch and Russian; with users able to issue instructions such as “call (contact name)” or “play artist (artist name)”.

SYNC and Emergency Assistance are just two highlights of the class-leading technology package which will be available on the B-MAX. It will also include Ford’s Active City Stop system, which is designed to help motorists avoid low speed collisions with stationary or slower-moving traffic in front, and Hill Start Assist, which helps keep the car from rolling backward after the driver has come to a stop on a slope or hill and Rear View Camera.

The Ford B-MAX will make its automotive show debut at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, in March and go on sale later in the year.

[button link="http://connecteddigitalworld.com/2011/06/23/video-of-ford-sync-applink-controlling-pandora-with-your-voice/" style="info" window="yes"]See our Video of Ford SYNC AppLink Controlling Pandora With Your Voice[/button]

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Ford Motor Company has today announced AppLink, a feature which delivers voice control of smart phone apps from the driver’s seat, will be introduced globally as part of its voice-control and in-car connectivity system SYNC.

SYNC_LOGOTYPELR

“AppLink is an extremely useful and innovative addition to SYNC,” said Doug VanDagens, Ford’s global director of connected services. “We will work closely with leading developers around the world to develop apps which are compatible with SYNC AppLink and provide the best services for our customers.”

AppLink is currently available on 10 Ford vehicles in North America, and enables drivers there to access top apps including:

  • Stitcher – a mobile app for streaming radio shows and podcasts directly to smart phones
  • TuneIn – an app allowing users to access live local and global radio on the move
  • iHeart Radio – an app that allows users to access over 800 radio stations across America
  • Slacker Radio – an app that controls personalised music and information content through free and subscription radio services
  • OpenBeak – an app that allows users to have Twitter updates read out to them
  • Pandora – An app that allows users to voice-activate their Pandora Internet radio stream including pausing and skipping songs
  • Scout by TeleNav – a new daily personal navigator that allows drivers to easily and efficiently navigate their commutes, run errands, and discover places around them.
  • SYNC Destinations powered by INRIX – a free app for SYNC Services users that combines with SYNC AppLink to deliver quick, on-the-go, voice-controlled access to the latest traffic reports and forecasts, travel times, turn-by-turn directions and destination downloads

The global introduction of SYNC AppLink, following a successful roll out in North America, will deliver voice-control of smart phone apps to even more Ford customers, enabling them to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road while remaining connected when driving.

[button link="http://connecteddigitalworld.com/2011/06/23/video-of-ford-sync-applink-controlling-pandora-with-your-voice/" style="info" window="yes"]Take a look at the video we made of AppLink last year[/button]

Have you got a Ford car with AppLink? If so, tell us what you think of it.

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The 2013 Ford Fusion and Flex cars will get SYNC as standard equipment on all trim levels.

IMG_7919

This is what Ford said yesterday:

Ford SYNC, the voice-activated in-car connectivity system introduced in 2007, now is installed in more than 4 million Ford Motor Company vehicles

Powered by the Microsoft Windows Embedded Automotive platform, SYNC has created the “upgradeable car,” allowing new features and improvements to be seamlessly integrated on a pace with consumer trends and preferences

DEARBORN, Mich., Feb. 9, 2012 – Drivers of more than 4 million vehicles already take advantage of mobile device connectivity provided by Ford SYNC, which is available as either optional or standard equipment on every new Ford sold in NorthAmerica. That population is set to grow even more for 2013 as the all-new Ford Fusion and Flex get SYNC as standard equipment.

Since its debut in 2007, SYNC has been recognized as the industry-leading system for connecting mobile phones and media players and enabling hands-free use through a simple and reliable voice-control system.

“Ford SYNC technology has led the industry in transforming the way we connect to our cars,” said Dave Mondragon, Ford general marketing manager. “SYNC has enabled Ford drivers to take advantage of the latest communication and entertainment technology with an easily upgradeable architecture that is friendly to use.”

Every all-new Fusion from the base car through to the advanced plug-in Fusion Energi, as well as the redesigned Flex, will be equipped with SYNC whether it has an entry-level audio system or top-of-the-line MyFord Touch interface. Compatible phones and media players can be connected to SYNC through a standard USB port or wirelessly via Bluetooth.

Nine states have now completely banned the use of hand-held phones by drivers with at least 35 states prohibiting texting behind the wheel. At the same time, Americans are more connected than ever, with the mobile industry trade group CTIA estimating more than 300 million cell phones were in use in the United States by mid-2011.

Hands-free, voice-activated control of music playback and phone calls enables drivers to drive safer by keeping their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. With a connected mobile phone, drivers can also use SYNC Services to get voice-activated access to a cloud-based network of information including traffic, news, sports, weather, horoscopes, stock quotes and movie listings along with business searches and turn-by-turn directions.

In the event of an accident, SYNC 911 Assist can directly call emergency services and transmit the vehicle location to first responders.

Upgradeability

Fusion and Flex drivers aren’t limited to the SYNC functionality that was built in when they bought the car. As new features are added to SYNC, owners can visit SYNCMyRide.com to download free updates to a USB flash drive that can be loaded into the car.

Drivers today spend more time on the road than ever before, and Ford recognizes the need to stay safe and connected. The redesigned 2013 Ford Fusion and Flex will lead the way to a projected 9 million more SYNC-powered vehicles over the next three years.

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Updated SYNC Destinations App Connects Drivers to SYNC On the Go, Simplifies Navigation on the Road.

syncdestinations
·         SYNC® Destinations now leverages the power and speed of the latest 3G and 4G mobile broadband networks to provide fast access to turn-by-turn directions, destination downloads* and traffic information

·         SYNC Destinations is now compatible with SYNC AppLink™, enabling drivers to get quick, on-the-go access to the latest traffic reports, turn-by-turn directions and destination downloads* with simple voice commands

·         SYNC Destinations is one of five new apps Ford plans to announce and demonstrate at the upcoming 2012 International CES

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 9, 2012 – Ford Motor Company is launching the next version of SYNC® Destinations, its free mobile app for SYNC Services users, giving Ford vehicle owners the ability to easily send destinations to their vehicle using their smartphone.

With the addition of Ford SYNC AppLink™ support, the app enables drivers to use simple voice commands to get on-the-go traffic reports to any of their favorite destination points. Users can report traffic incidents to share with the entire SYNC Destinations community, get to-the-minute incident reports, and leverage their smartphone’s data network to download turn-by-turn directions and destinations directly to their vehicle.

“SYNC Destinations is an indispensible tool that cuts travel times and helps Ford owners save money by using less fuel,” said Doug VanDagens, global director of Connected Services, Ford Motor Company. “The app not only makes the SYNC experience better, it makes it easier than ever to navigate with SYNC Services.”

Simplified voice-controlled access via AppLink

With the first version of SYNC Destinations, Ford owners had the capability to get on-the-go access to their cloud-based SYNC Services account. Drivers could add, save and manage destinations or Saved Points like they do using www.syncmyride.com. Locations added using SYNC Destinations were easily accessible through SYNC Services in the vehicle.

The new version of SYNC Destinations takes the experience to the next level. Now the SYNC Destinations app combines with SYNC AppLink to leverage the power of the smartphone’s data connection to download directions into the vehicle using simple voice commands. Users can also access traffic/incident reports while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

Users simply speak the commands “Mobile Apps,” “SYNC Destinations,” followed by “Traffic to” and the name of a saved destination to instantly get the fastest route to their destination. The command, “Directions,” followed by the name of a saved destination enables users to download voice-guided turn-by-turn directions into the vehicle.

Need to know traffic incidents around your location? Simply say, “Incidents around me” to get a report of all known incidents and events around your current location.

Drivers also can use the SYNC Destinations app’s community reporting feature to “Report an accident” to other fellow SYNC Services drivers to forewarn them of potential traffic delays.

Ford vehicle owners who do not have AppLink can still download the new version of SYNC Destinations and enjoy the following new features:

·         Access real-time traffic information and incident reports covering every major interstate, highway, arterial and city street in North America
·         Gather reliable traffic forecasts that cut travel times and save money by consuming less fuel
·         Get comparative traffic reports delivering fast insight into which roads are better or worse than normal for that time of day
·         View previously unsaved destinations and convert them into a Saved Point
·         Access alternate route options to any Saved Points
·         Leverage international language support for Spanish, French, German, Italian, Hungarian and Dutch
·         Send a destination to the vehicle using the “Send to SYNC” feature via a smartphone. Directions for this destination can then be downloaded by using SYNC Services. Previously, users could only utilize Send to SYNC from their computer or laptop using Mapquest and Google

SYNC Destinations and SYNC Services navigation are powered by INRIX’s traffic intelligence platform and the world’s largest community of drivers. INRIX uniquely analyzes real-time data from 50 million vehicles and hundreds of public and private sources to provide SYNC owners with voice-controlled access to the latest traffic reports and best routes based on current and expected conditions. INRIX Traffic Forecasts leverages unique analysis of real-time, historical data with analyses of traffic-impacting local events like holidays, weather, concerts and sporting events to deliver insight into what drivers can expect on the roads hours, days and months in advance.

“We continue to collaborate closely with other companies to make sure SYNC and the app ecosystem built around it remains fresh and exciting for our customers,” said Srini Racha, product manager, SYNC Services, Ford Connected Services. “SYNC Destinations gives busy, on-the-go SYNC users the convenience of using their smartphone to find, save and send destinations to their vehicle. Then, when in the vehicle, to leverage the smartphone’s power and speed and SYNC AppLink to download directions to that destination using simple voice commands.”

This new version of SYNC Destinations continues to be a free download for SYNC Services users and will be available for iPhone owners via the iTunes App Store. Owners with active SYNC Services accounts can download and use this app. This version of SYNC Destinations will also be made available for BlackBerry and Android users in the first quarter of 2012.

SYNC Destinations now joins the growing SYNC AppLink ecosystem of mobile apps including Pandora, Stitcher, Slacker Radio and OpenBeak. SYNC AppLink is available on 10 vehicles for 2012.

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Earlier this year I spent time at Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn. One of things I saw was MyFord Touch. Yesterday Ford announced some upgrades!

MyFord Touch

Here is the information from Ford:

· Ford will launch performance upgrades and new features for MyFord Touch® beginning with 2013 models – no-charge upgrade will be available to existing owners

· Simpler graphics, faster touch-screen response and easier-to-use controls are among the many enhancements to the voice-activated in-car connectivity system

– Ford customers said MyFord Touch® could be faster and feature simpler graphics that are easier to use and that’s exactly what Ford plans to deliver with a broad set of performance upgrades to the system – launching first on the new 2013 Ford Escape, Flex, and Taurus.

Available early next year – and also offered at no charge to existing MyFord Touch owners – the software upgrade enhances the ownership experience as it was developed by listening and responding to customer feedback.

“SYNC® has clearly been a game-changing technology, and now we’re changing the game again, showing how quickly we can deliver more of what customers really want,” said Graydon Reitz, director, Ford Global Electronics and Electrical Systems Engineering. “Our strategy to create the SYNC software platform and add the customizable screens of MyFord Touch gives us a level of flexibility and speed to respond to customer input like never before seen in the auto industry.”

The new touch-screen interface features new simpler graphics and controls that are easier to use. Customers will also experience significantly faster touch-screen response times, one of the top requests from owners.

New features include support for tablet devices and Audible.com audiobooks, improved navigation maps and enhanced voice recognition interaction.

Listening to customers

Since MyFord launched last fall, Ford has held four customer clinics in which owners talked directly to Ford engineers about their experiences with the new technology. Owner feedback was clear and consistent, revealing that MyFord Touch was a key purchase reason.

A survey of 2011 Ford Edge owners shows that four of the top seven purchase reasons were elements of the MyFord Touch system: the touch-screen, steering wheel controls, voice recognition and interior styling.

While owners reported that they love the system, there were distinct areas where they wanted improvements. Earlier this year, Ford started delivering on their requests, beginning with more instructions and information on how to best utilize the capabilities of the system.

Ford launched two programs modelled after what consumers experience when purchasing a new electronic device. First, the company added a new MyFord Touch owner support website featuring how-to videos at www.syncmyride.com. Second, free “SYNC My Ride” personalized training sessions for new owners are now offered through Ford dealers – scheduled at customers’ convenience.

“The keys to continuous improvement are simple: Listen, learn and respond. That’s how we’re going to keep our customers happy,” said Gary Jablonski, manager, SYNC Platform Development. “Evolving the software with meaningful enhanced features was part of our plan from the very beginning. It’s no different than the experience with our smartphones and laptop computers – except now, it’s your car that gets better.”

 

New look

The visual enhancements to MyFord Touch are based on simplifying the graphics with larger, bolder fonts, removing low-priority visual content, and designing screens based on a consistent pattern. More than 1,000 screens in total have been updated with the improved look.

“Our goal when designing the upgrade was to simplify the screens and give customers a fast and easy way to get information at any given moment,” said Jennifer Brace, user interface Design engineer for Ford. “That meant removing buttons, relocating high-use controls closer to the driver’s reach, simplifying tasks and improving font size.”

The new fonts are as much as 40 percent larger on some redesigned screens. The fonts also are wider and bolder to provide easier legibility, particularly among the rapidly increasing number of drivers age 60 and older.

New features

Ford also took the opportunity to update the performance of the system and add new features for customers to help them keep pace with the fast-moving consumer electronics market.

Faster touch-screen response time, for example, was a key request from owners. Initial testing shows that touch and voice response is at least two times faster than the current system.

Also, the software upgrade includes the following enhancements:

 

· Improved voice recognition experience powered by Nuance

– Quicker voice recognition upon startup and faster command prompt when the voice button is pushed

– Voice commands used in conjunction with navigation are simplified through elimination of the need to provide street direction, e.g., “Main Street” instead of “North Main Street”

– Music requests are simpler by removing the need to include the additional song, album or artist information often found at the end of a name in (parenthesis) or [brackets]

– Customers can find their favorite sports team in action via new Sirius Game Finder simply by saying a command such as “Tune to Detroit Lions game”

 

· Tablet device compatibility

– Music and other media content from most popular tablet computers like the Apple iPad can now be accessed through a simple USB connection

· Audible.com audiobook support

– Listen to Audible.com content using voice commands or the easy-to-use touch-screen controls

 

· Connected navigation powered by TeleNav features new map data by NAVTEQ

– Updated map views are richer and feature more 3D landmarks

– Views of freeway junctions and signs are enhanced through photorealistic screen images

– Smart routing options are provided based on a database of historical traffic patterns

 

· Phone compatibility

– Automatic Bluetooth® connection upon vehicle entry has been improved

– Noise and echo cancelation during phone calls has been improved to enhance call quality

 

· Gracenote® album cover art database

– Inclusion of the latest music metadata available enhancing the music playback experience

– Improved voice recognition for music search allowing drivers to pinpoint artists with hard-to-pronounce names or nicknames

MyFord TouchMyFord TouchMyFord TouchMyFord TouchMyFord TouchMyFord TouchMyFord TouchMyFord Touch

And a short video showing it as well:

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One of the trend tracks I attended yesterday at the Forward with Ford 2011 conference was called Emerging Technologies. During this session Ford demonstrated Applink, which is a SYNC component and how it works with Pandora.

Forward with Ford 2011

SYNC AppLink is a free software program from Ford that works with smartphone apps to give you voice control. So for example, you could command Pandora, which is an Internet radio service, to change the station.

Forward with Ford 2011

It is integrated into the car display.

Forward with Ford 2011

If you are an iPhone user you have to connect via USB, where as Android and Blackberry owners can connect via Bluetooth.

Forward with Ford 2011

It’s very cool technology which can only get better in time. More Ford car models will come with SYNC as standard (in the US). And if you are in the UK stay tuned, we should have it soon.

Take a look at this short video to see SYNC AppLink working with Pandora.

 

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One of the sessions I attended today was on Emerging Technologies, and during the session I saw a live demo of SYNC with MyFord Touch.

Ford Sync

In case you have never heard of Sync, here is how Ford describe it:

SYNC is an easy-to-use in-car connectivity system that allows you to make hands-free calls and control your music and other functions with simple voice commands.

SYNC features allow you to:

  • Access your phone, compatible mp3 player or USB drive with voice activated commands
  • Be connected directly to a 911 operator after an accident in which an airbag deploys
  • Generate Vehicle Health Reports that provide vehicle diagnostics, maintenance and recall information
  • Receive audible text messages
  • And, much more

My Ford Sync

I had the chance to sit in one of Fords cars that had Sync integrated, and I was shown a demo.

My Ford Sync

Ford Sync

I was very impressed at just how well it worked.

Take a look at the demo video below:

[button link="http://www.ford.com/technology/sync/myfordtouch/" style="info" window="yes"]Learn more about SYNC with MyFord Touch here[/button]

Microsoft has today quietly released the final version of the Windows Live Essentials 2011 Suite of software.

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If you don’t know what Windows Live Essentials is, here is how Microsoft describe them:

Windows Live Essentials includes free programs from Microsoft for photos, movies, instant messaging, e-mail, blogging, and more. Get them all in one download and get more done with Windows.

Windows Live Essentials requires Windows 7 or Windows Vista. Learn how to upgrade from Windows XP. It includes versions of Messenger, Photo Gallery, Mail, Movie Maker, Writer, Family Safety, and Sync, plus Bing Bar and Messenger Companion. You also get Microsoft Office Outlook Connector Pack and Microsoft Silverlight.

We mentioned the Windows Live Essentials beta earlier in the year.

Downloading and installing Windows Live Essentials 2011 was simple and a lot quicker that the beta.

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You can download the installation software from here. You will need to uninstall the Windows Live Essentials Beta if you had it installed before you install the final version.

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