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).