Bought a smartphone… bought a car too!

Saturday morning I stopped by my local Sprint Store to upgrade my phone from a Samsung Nexus S 4G smartphone to the new HTC EVO LTE smartphone. It was the launch day for the EVO LTE, so I was one of the lucky ones who was able to get one. It’s a really nice phone– it has a very large screen, the phone is super thin, and the battery life is fantastic. I’m very happy to have upgraded, and expect to be even more happier when Sprint activates their LTE network later this year in the Seattle area.

Later in the afternoon, I decided it was time to also upgrade my 10 year old car. I had been casually looking for a new car for the last year or so, but it felt like the time was right with my wife’s car payments ending next month. So, I visited my local Ford dealership and did the whole bit– checked out new and used cars, did some test driving, and finally began talking numbers.  After about 6 hours I drove off the lot with a new Ford Explorer complete with Ford’s Sync Touch option. If you’re not familiar with Ford Sync, it’s the hands-off voice control system (created my Microsoft) which Ford has been using for a number of years. I was able to easily pair my new EVO LTE smartphone with the Ford Sync system, after which I can make hands-free calls by simply pushing a button on my steering wheel and saying, “call home”, or “call 213-111-4455″. There are lots and lots of other voice commands and features that went along with Ford Sync, but the most interesting feature was the ability to control certain apps on my smartphone with this system.

A perfect example that got me really excited was the ability to listen to Pandora and my podcasts with Ford Sync via a Bluetooth connection. So instead of using earbuds with my Smartphone to listen to Pandora while I drive to and from work every day, I just start up Pandora on my smartphone and then tap the Ford Sync button. I then say,”Bluetooth Audio” and Ford Sync responds with, “what command?”. I then say, “Play”, and I then can hear my Pandora song playing though my Explorer’s speaker system! If I want to skip a song, I just tap the “Seek” button on my steering wheel and the Pandora app running on my smartphone skips to the next song. Really cool, and much better than wearing earbuds and having to skip songs by messing with my Smartphone directly. The same goes for my Podcast app (Podkicker). I can skip forward by several seconds by tapping the “Seek” button on my steering wheel and hear the audio from my stereo system.

And since the EVO LTE uses the “Beats” audio from Dr. Dre, the bluetooth audio sounds pretty good on my car ‘s audio system. If I could make a wish for improvement, it would be to have the ability to dock my smartphone in a slot in the dash or center console. Now, that would be sweet!

With Ford Sync there’s a subscription service which allows you to get turn-by-turn directions, weather, sports score, latest traffic news, stock prices, etc. The system uses your phone to dial a 1-800 number and somehow pulls down this data to be reported to you via an audible spoken system. I’m not sure if I’ll continue using this service after my trial period ends, but it sure shows the way of the future with smartphones and cars merging their capabilities.

If you ever buy a Ford or other brand car, definitely check out their equivalent systems… you won’t be disappointed!


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