Ford Sync: Great and Not so Great

Posted by & filed under Misc, Reviews, Technology.

So, I keep on getting used to my new car. And, of course, I am trying to get used to that creation of mad genius named Ford Sync. And the mad genius is Microsoft. Which is, kinda, a bad news in the whole situation.
As I understand it, this, essentially, one of first forays by Microsoft into Automotive software. If anyone remembered how maddening were first versions of Windows CE (there was something before the CE too, right? Something embedded), well that’s pretty much applies here.
The idea is fantastic. It’s a page out of old sci-fi books and movies: you talk to the car, car listens and does something. Given that autopilot is pretty much in its infancy (hello, kinda-self-parking cars), we’re left with other primary car system — the audio center. You can give Sync commands, and it tries to do what you asked.

Bad news number one: Sync web site SyncMyRide.com is a schizophrenic mess. See, there’s more than one. There’s a site for Ford and kinda generic one too. So there’s more than one way to log in, several sets of credentials could be used, and if you, like me, make an error of registering on syncmyride.com before you register on Ford.com, trying to sync two accounts is going to be almost impossible.
Bonus — trying to sync up two accounts can result in deactivation (and complete loss) of 3 years of pre-paid traffic and information service. So… I’m afraid to give it the second go, because when something like that is shown to the end user, the warning means only one — a jungle of back-end systems, fighting over settings, overriding each other, and, most likely, a helpless set of customer service agents.

Web site constantly shows me errors — that “this combination of radio and steering wheel is not supported”. I kinda fail to understand, what exactly is it in the steering wheel it needs? Sync inide the car works, but web site goes haywire every time I try to click somewhere.

Several places said I needed to activate the account. Repeatedly. Except after a chat with online support I’ve learned that everything is pretty much activated.

Then you need to re-subscribe every year for the free traffic/directions service. My year is a long way from being up, but that also doesn’t sound promising.

And even though I’ve installed “version checker” twice I still don’t get to see any applications. Which were kinda promised.

So, for now, Sync online is a dud. I don’t care if they can’t make web site pretty, at least fix the errors.
When you read online instructions for Vehicle Health Report, for example, it says you need to push the Sync button and say “Vehicle Health Report”. Yeah… it didn’t like that. I tried it about 10 times, each time command was not recognized. On the other hand cutting out “report” did the trick, and Vehicle Health resulted in correct assessment being downloaded/uploaded or whatever the car wanted to do to my cellphone for about 20 seconds. Bonus annoyance — you can’t just download the report from the site. Nuh-uh. It will be generated on the fly which can take up to 25 seconds. W. T. F.?!

More on Sync strangeness later…

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