Ford upgrades Microsoft Sync

Ford chose the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to introduce an upgraded version of its Microsoft Sync system that will be available on new Fords later in 2009. The new Sync system will give drivers the option to access traffic alerts, directions and news free for the first three years after a new car purchase.

Ford upgraded its Sync system just as Toyota improved and expanded ability of its telematics system across its lineup.

Users who go between Sync-equipped Ford vehicles can keep their settings stored in their phone. Ford says the new system works on any Bluetooth-capable smartphone, even Apple's iPhone.

The traffic detection system can alert drivers of road conditions ahead, Ford says, and the system can send users an alert via text message before they leave their home. Sync will also read text messages sent to phones in order to further update drivers.

The upgraded navigation feature from Sync will read turn-by-turn directions from navigation-equipped mobile phones. The data is downloaded into Sync and then the system speaks directions aloud via the audio system's speakers.

Ford says to expect availability almost line-wide for North American buyers in 2010, with some models getting the upgraded system late in 2009.