2011 Ford Fiesta: Sync screens could be improved

Posted by & filed under Reviews, Technology.

I love my Ford Fiesta. I’ve put more than 5k miles on it already, and driving experience is great. I also love Sync — mostly because it gives me ability to stream music from my cell phone (hello, Pulsradio and Pandora), as well as do the regular car audio things — radio, CDs, etc.
While I do experience some glitches (for example I can’t get “pick up/hang up” phone button to work — it picks up the phone, but it never works to hang up, I have to use “end” option on soft button), my biggest Sync gripe is its screens. Or more specifically how they are laid out.

Center of the screen is occupied by a huge and 90% useless icon of the current playback mode. Which is duplicated by a little icon to the left of the screen (tiny icon of the same shape, glowing green). And functionally duplicated by text several times:
Radio (top left), FM2 (subset of radio presets, also understandably radio-only) and the frequency (101.5 MHz CD anyone? I thought so)
RDS text gets a measly single line below the frequency, so it always scrolls. Given that most stations also change it (for example name of the station, then song name) it’s kinda double-scroll, which is not very convenient.

I think this screen (along with most other ones) can be improved significantly by just changing the layout a bit.
Here’s how I would change it:
While I would like to address duplication, I’m okay with having several means of indicating you’re in a radio mode.

Move the “radio” icon and scale it down — it belongs in the left upper corner, be it radio or bluetooth (which, by the way, gets standard “USB” icon right now — this needs to be changed) or CD or USB. Small icon is good enough.

Move the frequency up. If the station is in pre-sets, add [number] after space. Right now there’s also a “scrollbar” on the right, that actually indicates where in the list of pre-set stations you are, which is useless. Just show the pre-set number. If you want to have a scale, add an FM/AM scale with triangle showing where you are (shown on the mock-up)

All remaining space — two screen-wide lines, would go for RDS text (or whatever other text the mode provides). That way there’s a good chance to be able to show everything at once, and only station’s updates would change it. I think it would be convenient, and there’d be no need to press Text which essentially does just that — overlays the whole screen with RDS text.

Now, I understand that not everything would be easy to do — for example I don’t know what’s the resolution of the screen, so my idea with FM scale showing under the frequency letters may not be possible. I tried to copy the lines from border of soft-button indicators, which are 1 pixel, so little “up” arrow may look uglier.

I’d love to try to build “custom” screens for Sync if some sort of SDK/tools were available. But so far I haven’t seen any information about such capability being exposed to developers (or general public).

4 Responses to “2011 Ford Fiesta: Sync screens could be improved”

  1. Scott

    I was told to hold the hangup button on the steering wheel until the music comes back on.
    I agree the screens are not the best and I do not care for the color especially in bright sunlight.
    I even have problems reading the small one between the gauges, the font is awful.

    The biggest problem I feel is that sync is not part of the radio it is in the speaker wires coming out of the radio and can feed information to the center of the screen and controls the side sync mode lights. The redundancy is due to this separation. Sometimes this is a good thing, it seems the voice command in mine doesn’t understand the word “Pandora” and when you access it through the phone menu it says it is unavailable
    over and over. The only way out is to push the radio button then push the sync button and say call Fred and then hang up before it dials. IF not it is always hung up on the Bluetooth audio screen. Then the only solution is to reboot the car by turning it off, waiting 3 seconds and start the car again.

    Also there is too much stuff in the phone menu that should be in AUX or Settings.

    Reply
  2. Shilpi

    Anyone know a way to scroll through the Sirius radio text? I want to get the full title of the current bit on Howard Stern, or the full song title when its a long one.

    Reply
    • Max Smolev

      I don’t have Sirius, but I’d try to push [Info] soft-button (usually the right-most one). In several modes I saw it start scrolling the full name of the song, or switch between abbreviated and longer description

      Reply

Leave a Reply