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Ford’s SYNC2 advances in-car voice recognition


Despite the amazingly intuitive voice recognition that is built into all of our phones—be it the soothing tones of Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Google Now—it’s surprising how primitive the same technology generally is inside cars. Ford’s Sync software has been something of an exception to this rule due to its preference for natural language rather than the robotic inputs required by, say, Mercedes COMAND—and in order to solidify Sync’s position as the ‘most human’ of in-car assistants, the system is about to receive its first major update since its first-generation debut in 2007.

The changes in version 2 of Sync are headlined by the system’s newfound ability to understand more situational commands: asking most in-car systems to ‘find a car park’ or for a ‘warmer’ temperature and they’d be baffled. Ford boasts that Sync understands your subjective, human requests and can respond calmly and, well, obediently.

When it comes to entertainment, Ford has scrambled to claw back the ground claimed by Holden (and the rest of the GM stable), which uses a simplified version of Apple’s Siri Eyes-Free technology. Both systems claim the ability to interpret music artist and track titles, and both can display album artwork from streaming audio sources on the display.

Ford are suggesting that the new Sync will be universally paired to a standard eight-inch infotainment screen wherever it is offered, suggesting that upcoming products like the next-generation Fiesta will be just as competitive as the new Mazda 2, and updated Volkswagen Polo, when it comes to interiors filled with sophisticated technology.