Announced yesterday, Ford is rolling out a software update to Ford’s SYNC software that will allow text messages to be read aloud while driving the vehicle. While the system requires a compatible smartphone, users will likely hear the messages through the speakers in the car. The smartphone communicates with the software through a Bluetooth connection. This upgrade to version 3.2.2 of the software will be able to be applied to all SYNC Generation 1 2011 and 2012 vehicles as Ford is planning to retrofit Bluetooth MAP support into those Generation 1 vehicles.. Users with incompatible smartphones or older cell phones will have to upgrade their phone in order to take advantage of the new feature.
This upgrade is made possible through Bluetooth Message Access Profile otherwise known as MAP. This protocol was designed to allow for transmitting email, SMS and MMS between mobile devices. However, the amount of MAP-enabled mobile devices is currently limited and have been included within the Blackberry Curve (9300), Blackberry Style (9670), HTC EVO 3D, HTC Sensation 4G, Motorola Atrix, Motorola Droid Bionic and Motorola Photon. Apple’s popular iPhone doesn’t support the MAP feature yet, but the company did join the Bluetooth Special Interest Group board recently. Microsoft has also been slow to show support for the MAP technology in its lineup of smartphones.
Users that are interested in getting the upgrade can visit the Sync My Ride site in order to determine eligibility. The upgrade is available in both Ford and Lincoln vehicles that are equipped with the SYNC technology. According to a 2009 study from the Transportation Institute at Virginia Tech, texting while operating a vehicle increased the chance of getting into an accident by more than 23 times. With the release of the SYNC upgrade, Ford is attempting to encourage alternative methods to checking text messages in order to keep the focus on the road