Ford released a free mobile app that gives drivers access to some of Sync's travel features even when they're not in the car.
The Ford Sync Destinations app is like a mobile version of the Travel Destination and Information (TDI) service available on Sync-equipped autos. The service, which is free for the first three years, provides turn-by-turn directions, traffic incidents, travel time to destinations, and other information.
Using the new app, drivers of 2010 and 2011 Sync-equipped cars will have that same information on their mobile device. In fact, the app is arguably better than what's available in the car because it will show real-time traffic and route information for up to 25 stored destinations at once. However, it's no substitute for the real thing--the app will automatically disable itself if it detects that the user is traveling at more than 5 mph, so you'll still need to use Sync Services TDI while you're in your ride.
But the app also solves another problem--it enables drivers to send destination addresses and directions from their phones to their car, even when they're nowhere near them.
Last July, Google added a "Send to Car" button on Google Maps that enabled drivers to send destinations and custom routes to their car, including Sync-equipped vehicles. However, Google mysteriously deleted that functionality from its apps, and it's now only available on the browser. This means that you could only use this feature if you're planning well in advance from a computer and not if you're already on the go.
Ford's new app is a sort of workaround for that lost feature, and it also adds functionality. In addition to directions and estimated travel times, the app uses information provided by INRIX to provide estimates on how travel times will change depending on when you leave. And although I haven't tried it, Ford says you can add destinations to the app using the device's address book or through local business searches, although the carmaker didn't say which search tools will work.
The downloadable app is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices, and you use your Sync account credentials to activate it. A BlackBerry app is also being developed, but is not yet available.