Screencap from Ford SYNC demo with Pandora
Lots of folks use Pandora. In fact, the service currently has 48 million users accessing its 700,000 music tracks -- and nearly half of them do so on their mobile phones. But while Pandora has always been a breeze to use when you're sitting at a computer or in a wi-fi zone, listening on the go has been more difficult. Ford's SYNC system aims to fix that, and the automaker has uploaded a video to demonstrate how it'll work.
Until now, using Pandora in the car has generally meant plugging a smartphone into the car stereo through the auxiliary jack, then interfacing with Pandora through said phone. In other words, it requires you to pull your eyes off the road to fiddle with play buttons and such, making it just as clunky and dangerous as using an iPod, or even sending a text message.
As a SYNC app, however, Pandora gets a twin steering wheel/voice control interface, which makes flipping through selections and giving songs the thumbs-up (or thumbs-down) much easier. This clip from Ford shows the difference between the two set-ups, and perhaps unintentionally highlights the awkwardness of interfacing with Pandora directly through a smartphone:
All-in-all, we give this development a thumbs-up of its own. We were hoping to see a demo of the app in action with the newer MyFord Touch system, which looks to break some new ground as far as telematics systems are concerned (though it also seems to pull drivers back toward a potentially dangerous, distracting touchscreen interface).
Also, we're curious how Pandora on this system and on MyFord Touch will allow users to scan channels built by others. The ability to share music with friends and family is one of Pandora's best features, and it's what makes it a true social media service. We don't see evidence of that capability here, but we seriously hope to see it down the line.