Ford Sync

Not to be confused with Microsoft Sync Framework, the data synchronization platform developed by Microsoft.
Original author(s) Ford Motor Company
Developer(s) Ford Motor Company
Initial release September 2007 (2007-09)
Stable release
Development status Active
Operating system Windows Embedded Automotive
Available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Type Telematics
License Proprietary commercial software

Ford Sync (stylized Ford SYNC) is a factory-installed, integrated in-vehicle communications and entertainment system that allows users to make hands-free telephone calls, control music and perform other functions with the use of voice commands.[1][2] The system consists of applications and user interfaces developed by Ford and other third-party developers. The first two generations (Ford Sync and MyFord Touch) run on the Windows Embedded Automotive operating system designed by Microsoft,[3] while the third generation (Sync 3) will run on the QNX software from BlackBerry Limited.[4]

Ford first announced the release of SYNC in January 2007 at the Detroit International Auto Show.[5] SYNC was released into the retail market in 2007 when Ford installed the technology in twelve Ford group vehicles (2008 model) in North America.[6]

As of 2014, SYNC is offered in North America as a standard feature in most Ford and all Lincoln models.


Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates announced the SYNC partnership between Ford and Microsoft at the annual North American International Auto Show in January 2007.[5]

The Ford SYNC technology was promoted as a new product that provided drivers with the ability to operate Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones and digital media players in their vehicles using voice commands, the vehicle's steering wheel, and radio controls.[7] Later, new technology was added to SYNC in which text messages received by the driver are "vocalized" by a digitized female voice device named "Samantha". SYNC's text message function also has the ability to interpret approximately one hundred shorthand messages, such as "LOL", and will read "swear words", but does not decipher acronyms that have been considered by the designers to be "obscene".

In 2007, as a standalone option, the suggested retail price for the SYNC was US$395.[8]


Certain voice commands, such as "Turn-by-turn directions", "Vehicle Health Report", "Weather" and climate control commands are not available in some countries such as Canada due to compatibility issues. For example, many commands are not available because there is no French equivalent for a command in English. Ford Canada expects to address these issues in upcoming versions of the software after the issues are worked out in detail, but there does not appear to be a firm release date.


SYNC has various mobile-integration capabilities, including "Push to Talk" on the steering wheel, wireless transfer of contacts between a mobile phone and the on-board phone book, as well as various advanced calling features, such as caller ID, call waiting, conference calling, a caller log, a list of contacts, a signal strength icon, and a phone battery charge icon. Personal ring tones can also be assigned to identify specific callers.

Audible SMS messages

SYNC can convert a user's SMS messages to audio and read them out loud to the user through the vehicle's speaker system. This feature is carrier dependent as well as dependent on the device of the user. The feature is supported by several phone operating systems, including the iPhone, most Android models, and the former Windows Mobile. This feature is also dependent on the phone support Bluetooth Message Access Profile.


Digital music player support

SYNC can connect to popular digital music players via Bluetooth or a USB connection. Users can browse through music collections by genre, album, artist, and song title using voice commands. With certain devices, SYNC is also capable of playing protected content (for example Zune Pass downloads), provided that usage rights on the device are current.

Multilingual intelligence

SYNC is fluent in American English, French, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.[9]


911 Assist

The 911 Assist application places a direct call to a local 911 emergency operator in the event of a serious accident with an air bag deployment. Before initiating the emergency 911 call, SYNC will provide a 10-second window to allow the driver or passenger to decide whether to cancel the call. If not manually cancelled within the 10-second window, SYNC will place the emergency call. A pre-recorded message will play when the call is answered, and occupants in the vehicle will then be able to communicate directly with the 911 operator.

AppLink allows iPhone and Android-based cellular devices to run approved applications using the car's buttons or voice commands.

The first set of announced applications for the U.S. included Pandora Radio, Stitcher Radio, iHeartRadio, OpenBeak, NPR News, Slacker Radio, TuneIn Radio and Ford SYNC Destinations.[10] Rhapsody announced AppLink capability of its Android-based mobile app in January 2013.[11] Spotify was made available to iPhone users in March 2013.[12]

Applications for the U.K. market include miRoamer, Spotify, Personal Radio by AUPEO!, Glympse, EventSeeker, CitySeeker, Goal Live, Meople.Connector, HearMeOut and Audioteka S.A.[13]

Traffic, Directions and Information

Traffic, Directions and Information is an application that provides the user with traffic alerts, turn-by-turn directions and information about topics such as weather, sports, news and 411 business search. Ford announced on May 27, 2009 that the Traffic, Directions and Information application would be free for three years to the original owner of 2010 model year SYNC equipped vehicles. The information for traffic alerts and Turn-By-Turn Directions are provided by INRIX and Telenav.[14]

Vehicle Health Reports

After setting their personal preferences online, users can access free car reports at any time using SYNC. This feature was released with SYNC version 2.0. All SYNC owners have access to upgrade to this version.

Ford Work Solutions

The Ford Work Solution is a collection of technologies debuted in April 2009. Ford Work Solutions is marketed towards professionals who buy the Ford F150, F-Series Super Duty, E-Series van and Transit Connect.[15] Magneti Marelli developed the in-dash computer system that is unique to trucks equipped with Ford Work Solutions.[16] The applications included in the Ford Work Solution are Crew Chief, Garmin Nav, Mobile Office and Tool Link.[3]

Crew Chief

The Crew Chief application provides real time vehicle location and maintenance tracking. Crew Chief can monitor numerous vehicle diagnostic functions including tire pressure, water in fuel, airbag faults and the check engine light. Users can also create alerts to monitor things such as excessive speeding.[15]

Garmin Navigation

The Garmin Navigation application provides capabilities including destination routing and locating points of interest.[15]


The LogMeIn application allows users to remotely access an office computer using a data connection provided by Sprint.[16] The user can open applications on the remote computer, make updates and print documents using a Ford-certified, Bluetooth-enabled keyboard and printer.[15]

Tool Link is an application that enables a user to take physical inventory of objects present in the truck bed using radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags. A user attaches RFID tags to an object, allowing the SYNC system to detect the object's presence or absence and noting the object's status on the in-dash computer display.[17]

Users can create "job lists" of objects to verify that tools needed for a certain job are present in the truck before heading to a job site. At the end of the job, the system can inventory items in the truck to ensure that no tools are left on the job site.[17] Ford developed the Tool Link application with power tool manufacturer DeWalt along with ThingMagic.[15][17]

Agreement with Microsoft

Ford had exclusive use of the Microsoft Auto embedded operating system that powered the early versions of SYNC until the exclusivity agreement expired in November 2008. The Ford-developed user interface elements and Ford-developed applications remain exclusive to Ford group vehicles and are not available to other manufacturers using Windows Embedded Automotive for the basis of their in-vehicle infotainment systems.[18]

SYNC versions

The original SYNC system ( before the introduction of MyFord Touch) is now known as "SYNC Gen1", while the new MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch systems are known as "Gen2".

SYNC Gen1, Sept. 2007-Nov. 2012

SYNC v1, which debuted September 2007, offered the ability to play certain entertainment media, the ability to connect to certain mobile phones and digital audio players and to utilize SMS.[3] In January 2008, SYNC v2 was released, which enabled two new Ford developed applications: 911 Assist and Vehicle Health Report.[3] SYNC v3, released in April 2009, enabled the Traffic, Directions and Information application. Later that month, Ford Work Solutions, a collection of five applications marketed towards professionals who buy Ford trucks, was added. The applications included in the Ford Work Solution were Crew Chief, Garmin Nav, LogMeIn and Tool Link.[3][3] SYNC v4 and v5 were released in January 2010 and January 2011, respectively, and enabled the Ford developed MyFord Touch application for certain 2011 model year vehicles as well as SYNC AppLink capabilities for certain 2011 model year vehicles.[3] The latest version of SYNC was released in November 2012 by Ford and is only applicable to certain vehicles and configurations. In March 2015 most older Sync units from Model year 2010 and later received an upgrade to Sync v4.4, adding the improved Bluetooth compatibility, track display and Applink.[19] The newest version of Sync has some compatibility issues, and many users are reporting problems with the system. A downgrade is not possible, and Ford is planning to release a fix sometime soon. The issue seems to affect a number of iOS & USB device users as the Sync system continues to index the music stored on the device until the internal memory is full and the system crashes. [20] Version 4.4.1 is now available.[21]

MyFord Touch

Main article: MyFord Touch

Sync 3

On December 11, 2014, Ford announced that the upcoming Sync 3, which will replace MyFord Touch, will have simpler features and will be powered by QNX software by BlackBerry Limited instead of Microsoft.[4] The Sync 3 name will be used for both Ford and Lincoln models, though Lincoln's will have a different layout. Over half of Ford's North American vehicles will have Sync 3 by the end of 2016 and will be expanded globally afterwards; vehicles not equipped with Sync 3 will be equipped with the original Ford Sync.[4] Ford cited issues with Microsoft's complex software dragging down its scores with Consumer Reports and other consumer magazines being a reason it switched to BlackBerry.[4]

System hardware

Ford SYNC module circuit board FCCID LHJSYNC01

The SYNC computer, which Ford calls the Accessory Protocol Interface Module (APIM), is housed separately from the head unit, called the Audio Control Module (ACM), and interfaces with all vehicle audio sources as well as the high-speed and medium-speed vehicle CAN-buses.[22][23] The first generation of the Ford's SYNC computer was designed in cooperation with Continental AG[24] and is built around a 400 MHz Freescale i.MX31L processor with an ARM 11 CPU core, uses 256 MB of 133 MHz Mobile DDR SDRAM from Micron and 2 GB of Samsung NAND flash memory,[25][26] runs the Windows Embedded Automotive operating system,[27] and uses speech technology by Nuance Communications. Utilizing the USB port, SYNC's Microsoft Windows Auto-based operating system can be updated to work with new personal electronic devices. A Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR) BlueCore4 chip provides Bluetooth connectivity with compatible phones and devices. SYNC's major circuit board chips cost roughly US$27.80, which allows Ford to profitably sell the system at a much lower price than competitive offerings.[25]


In 2011, Shutko and Tijerina reviewed large naturalistic studies on cars (Dingus and Klauer, 2008; Klauer et al., 2006; Young and Schreiner, 2009), heavy good vehicles (Olsen at el, 2008) and commercial vehicles and buses (Hickman et al., 2010) in field operational tests (Sayer et al., 2005, 2007), and concluded that:

Awards and recognition

See also


  1. About SYNC 2010.
  2. Microsoft 2010, p. 17.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Microsoft 2010, p. 16.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Ford dumps Microsoft for Blackberry for Sync 3 USA Today (12/11/2014)
  5. 1 2 Moran 2007-01-08.
  6. 2007.
  7. "Is Ford SYNC The Voice Recognition Benchmark?". Auto Trends. 2008-04-21. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  8. 1 2 Popular Mechanics 2007.
  9. Nunez 2007-01-07.
  10. How to use SYNC® AppLink
  11. Barnes, Noelle (7 January 2013). "Rhapsody Hits the Road with Ford SYNC AppLink".
  12. Truta, Filip. "Spotify 0.6.2 Brings Ford SYNC AppLink Support to iOS Customers".
  13. "The Ford App Catalogue".
  14. "Ford SYNC gets navigation tools from Telenav". 9 January 2009.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 Ford 2009-09.
  16. 1 2 Ford 2009-03-03.
  17. 1 2 3 Microsoft 2009-03-09.
  18. Tutor 2009-09-17.
  19. "New Sync Update available SYNC v4.4". Ford F150 Forum – Community of Ford Truck Fans.
  20. "Sync problem? Index is full? - Ford F150 Forum - Community of Ford Truck Fans".
  21. "New Sync Software Update Available". 2015.
  22. Mustang Sync Kit 2008, p. 2.
  23. "Connector: C3342 Accessory Protocol Interface Module (APIM)". Ford Motor Company. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
  24. Bray, Hiawatha (2007-11-12). "Microsoft, Ford team up on voice controls for drivers". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 21 August 2010.
  25. 1 2 Richard Robinson, iSuppli (2008-04-04). "Under the Hood: Mini-teardown reveals Ford Sync's economical design". Retrieved 2010-07-30.
  26. Chaney, Rich (2008-06-12). "Mobile DDR spurs low-cost, low-power automotive electronics designs". EETimes, Micron Technology. Retrieved 21 August 2010.
  27. "Ford and Microsoft in Sync for in-car infotainment". CNET. CBS Interactive.
  28. Shutko, J. and Tijerina, L., (2011), Ford's Approach to Managing Driver Attention: SYNC and MyFord Touch, Ergonomics In Design, Vol. 19, No. 4, October 2011, pp. 13-16
  29. Popular Science 2007.


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