Ford Announces Improved SYNC With Smarter Voice Recognition And Simplified Controls

Earlier this month, Ford announced that it had delivered its 5 millionth SYNC-enabled vehicle. Today, the company is announcing an update to its Microsoft-powered in-car entertainment and connectivity platform and MyFord Touch interface, which will make its debut in the 2014 Ford Fiesta. The updated SYNC in the Fiesta will feature a new 6.5-inch LCD touch screen, but more importantly, the system will feature a smarter voice recognition system with improved accuracy and a more natural way to engage with it thanks to a flattened audio command structure.

Until now, users had to follow a rigid and somewhat unnatural process to get SYNC to switch radio stations or play a certain song by using their voice. Now, however, drivers can just say “play <name>” to request a specific artist, song, album or genre. Drivers can also just say “play FM 101.9” instead of having to explicitly tell the system whether you want to listen to regular radio or satellite radio (or you just say “play CNN” and the system will know that you want a satellite radio station).

The overall accuracy of the voice recognition system, Ford says, should also now be significantly better, thanks to using Nuance’s latest speech software, VoCon 3200 4.2. Ford also improved the Bluetooth phone-pairing mechanism with this update by doing away with the need to type in PINs. Drivers now simply press “OK” if the PINs on the phone and the car match.

Another small change in this version is a slightly revamped destination screen for the turn-by-turn navigation controls that should make entering addresses a bit easier.

Overall, this is not a massive update to the existing SYNC system, but it does try to rectify some of the issues with the existing implementation of the platform. The last time Ford made a major update to SYNC, it also made this update available for the cars with SYNC that were already on the road and a Ford spokesperson told us that the company plans to do the same thing this time around, too. Ford also tells us that the underlying hardware for the updated SYNC and MyFord Touch in the Fiesta is the same as in the company’s previous cars.