Ford vehicles equipped with the automaker’s SYNC 3 infotainment system will soon have access to a new voice-powered driving assistant behind the wheel – Sygic’s new aptly named “Driving Assistant.” The feature, which works with Sygic’s GPS navigation app, is described as a “voice-controlled co-driver that helps the driver identify nearby rest-stops, restaurants, hotels” and more. It’s accessible via a tap of an actual physical button on the steering wheel, and works in 24 languages, speaking out results to help keep driver eyes on the road.
Sygic’s mobile navigation app already works with Ford’s SYNC 3 AppLink feature, which essentially projects an app’s contents from your mobile screen to the in-car infotainment display. But the Driving Assistant is a new add-on for Ford vehicles specifically for now that lets you do things like ask for traffic info, parking advice, gas prices, specific destination locations or even route changes while driving with verbal commands.
If it sounds like an Alexa specifically built for the car, that seems to be what it’s intending. Other companies have actually brought Alexa to vehicles (including, in fact, Ford) but the Amazon voice companion is very specifically bound to the home, and it’s feature set is not at all directly connected to the experience of driving a car on the road. Garmin’s Alexa-powered in-car gadget uses the voice assistant and its own skill to provide navigation, but Sygic’s offering is only about getting you from point A to point B, so its purpose-built nature could be an advantage here.
A lot of drivers would likely still rather rely on their own native Maps apps and navigation services, which is why we continue to see Android Auto and CarPlay roll out to more vehicles, but if done well, a dedicated voice companion seems like a logical thing to employ while driving in order to minimize distraction and still get where you need to go, when you need to get there.