Ford, Microsoft team up on new dashboard OS
Ford Motor Company has announced that it will be offering a new digital dashboard control system on 12 of its 2008 vehicles and expanding that across their line as an option for the 2009 model year. The system, unveiled at the North American International Auto Show on Sunday, is called "Sync" and has been developed in partnership with Microsoft. The Redmond giant has developed the new music and mobile phone system for use by all automakers, but Ford is the first major American automaker to apparently sign on the dotted line. Bill Gates briefly mentioned Sync in his keynote address at CES.
At this stage in its life, Sync is a platform for managing mobile music players and mobile phones. Any Bluetooth phone will connect to the system, allowing for hands-free use. You can also hear and respond to SMS messages through the system, although responses are currently limited to a number of presets.
Sync also promises to integrate not only digital music players such as the iPod and Microsoft's new Zune, but also allow car owners to play music directly from USB memory sticks and from mobile phones via wireless Bluetooth connections. Drivers can select songs by using controls built into the steering wheel, or via voice commands. In addition to playing songs, the Sync system will allow the user to listen to streaming audio broadcast over the Internet.