Two weeks ago, the WSJ pre-announced Sync, Microsoft’s dashboard OS that will make it into new Ford models later in 2007. The article mentioned a navigation system, so I had some fun speculating whether that meant we might soon find Virtual Earth in Ford dashboards, much like Google Earth likely will soon be in VW dashboards.
I lost focus on CES announcements this week, distracted by another gadget at MacWorld, but now I’ve had a chance to plug back into Sync. I had to scan many an article to find any reference at all to GPS navigation in relation to Sync; the only reference I eventually found is to how Sync doesn’t have it. Extreme Tech’s article:
Sync is essentially the Microsoft Blue & Me product announced a year ago with Fiat and much matured. Fiat had a one-year global exclusive; now Ford has a year’s exclusive in the U.S. market.
Sync is more robust, Microsoft says, particularly the near-universal support for virtually all phones and music players. But it’s missing the GPS navigation feature. With Blue & Me cars, the user can request navigation instructions using the cellphone. A remote computer parses the request, confirms it’s the address or business you want, then downloads navigation instructions and rudimentary maps, navigating via arrows. The route instructions are spoken through the car speakers; the map information appears on the radio faceplate. Those features, including the navigation capability, cost about the Euro equivalent of $300, thus our belief Sync needs to be in the $250-or-under range.
All Sync’s demo site shows is that Sync will let you voice control your phone, Zune or iPod — in your best French if you wish. Yeah, that’s much more pressing than GPS-based dashboard navigation. Tom Tom and Garmin need not worry about Microsoft.
Of course, I was also disappointed to find no GPS in the iPhone — probably because battery life already isn’t all that hot without it. So for now, my next phone remains the Nokia N95, which will be the nec plus ultra for georeferenced photo and video blogging, something which I plan to do a lot more of when I move to Cairo in March for a few months.