We've been pretty impressed by Sync's Bluetooth phone and MP3 player connectivity, but Version 3.0 of Sync gains a whole new dimension with an array of connected services that includes navigation, traffic conditions, business search, weather, and other information sources. To use these services, you hit the voice command button in a Sync-equipped car and request services. The system uses your Bluetooth paired phone to connect with a server where you can request, by voice, directions, traffic conditions, a local business search, and other services.
The really innovative aspect of this system is that Ford can easily add new services, because they are loaded into a centralized server. For new services, car owners may need to update their version of Sync, but that can be as simple as downloading an update file from Ford's SyncMyRide Web site, putting it on a USB drive, and hooking it up to the car. However, this new version of Sync requires a GPS chip, which wasn't installed with earlier versions of Sync, so there won't be backward compatibility.
The system doesn't require an LCD screen or factory navigation system, either. When you request directions to an address, Sync uses the GPS chip to send your location to the server, which computes your turn-by-turn directions and sends them to the car. If you get off the route, you can ask the system to update the directions, and it will send down a new set based on your current location. Likewise, with business search, you can request a business type by saying florist, or hardware, and it will find the nearest business of that type and send it to the car. With the traffic conditions feature, the system will advise you of any bad traffic on your route, and then suggest an alternative.
Ford will make this new version of Sync available on almost all 2010 Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln models. There is no subscription fee for the first three years of ownership. Ford will determine any future fees at a later date.