I’ve had a Ford Escape for about 4 years now and one of the things I really love about it is the integration of the Microsoft Sync system with Bluetooth devices. From both a safety and convenience standpoint, it’s fantastic being able to use the phone handsfree and to stream Bluetooth audio to the stereo with a minimum of effort.
That said, there are a few really major annoyances that are easily correctable but have yet to be addressed in any firmware updates.
- When you get into the car and maybe settle in listening to a news story or catching some scores, there is nothing more annoying than the “911 Assist Disabled” message that appears and interrupts anything playing on the radio for about 10 seconds. The 911 Assist feature will automatically call 911 if you are involved in a collission. Besides being a feature that I am not interested in having happen automatically, but the constant reminder that I don’t want the feature turned on is very frustrating. I don’t know how many times this has happened to me, but it always seems to be at the most inopportune time and I’ll miss something that I wanted to hear on the radio. They added a firmware update a few years ago to at least suppress the spoken message telling you that you had disabled the feature. That was a major improvement. But the 10 seconds of silence while the display tells you that it has been disabled is incredibly annoying. Yes, I disabled the feature. Please stop reminding me of my choice.
- The Bluetooth audio streaming feature is fantastic. It’s nice not to have to plug in USB but instead to control and operate my iPhone to play podcasts and music over the stereo via Bluetooth. The playback is flawless and pretty seamless. The annoyance is that if you are not streaming Bluetooth, but instead are listening to the radio, the Sync system will still kick in and start Bluetooth playback on your iPhone. What this means is that every time you get into your car, your iPhone will silently be playing back and streaming audio to Sync even though you aren’t listening to that input. The result is an incredible drain on your iPhone battery. It’s incredibly annoying to constantly check your phone only to find that it is silently playing and sucking the life out of your charge. The only workaround is to Pause Bluetooth streaming while listening to it before switching to another media source. Even this technique seems to work less than half the time. To my way of thinking, this is a major gaffe that probably affects a lot of people.
- This is a minor quibble, but knowing the nature of Bluetooth playback, it would be nice if the song tile and artist would show on the display. It seems like an oversight in the design that would make the experience a lot better.
Again, I love the integration between Bluetooth devices and Sync for the most part. It makes for a much better driving experience and is certainly much better than the days of plugging in AUX inputs and fiddling with tapes and CDs. But a few minor improvements in the technology could go a very long way in helping make it a better all around product.