Yesterday I test drove a 2010 Lincoln Navigator equipped with the MS Sync feature advertised to make driving safer and easier by accepting voice commands. First of all – yes, I loathed the Navigator. The quality was about that of the cheap Rolex watches sold on eBay. Among all of the other things I hated about the Navigator’s poor design, its MS Sync feature made me want to get out a flathead screwdriver and forcibly remove the Navigation system, along with the “Powered by Sync” logo stuck on the dashboard. If you are among those few who love pain and actually like Microsoft Windows, Sync may be for you. For the rest of us who are merely forced to tolerate the craptastic wonderland of a Microsoft-based corporate cesspool, I promise you that once you push the Sync button, you’ll find new meaning to the phrase, “Microsoft crashing”, as you struggle to use sync without dying a horrible, fiery death.
In the audio below, it took me a total of three minutes and thoughts of suicide to assign a simple destination using MS Sync. I was forced to take my eyes off the road several times to read numerous lists of possible voice matches for city, street name, and more. Every time you hear, “Please say a line number” in the recording, I’m actually reading through a list instead of watching where I’m driving. After answering nearly a dozen questions, I had to end up touching buttons on the console, and later the navigation system screen to finally set the destination and accept an “agreement” to drive safely and obey all traffic laws. So MS Sync is sort of a voice-button-screen hybrid input, which I’m pretty sure entirely defeats its purpose.
This experience is nothing new to Microsoft users, but what’s uncanny is how MS Sync is so in-step with all of the things we hate about Microsoft. If you thought confirmation popups, EULAs, and wizards were just for Windows, wait till you try to interact with Sync. MS Sync is truly the classic example of Microsoft’s bloated and overly complex software design, clearly written by mediocre corporate programmers with no connection to the consumer. It just wouldn’t be a Microsoft product if it didn’t suck in a glorious way.
Have a listen to my conversation with the onboard computer below. Remember, every time I say, “1”, I’m having to read a list of options on the screen.
[ Audio: Microsoft Sync ]
In contrast, consider the Motorola Droid, with built-in Google maps navigation. To set a destination on the droid, you simply say, “Navigate to 1 Main St. Concord New Hampshire”, and you’re off. You could spend $66,000 on a new Navigator, or drop a few hundred bucks on a Droid and get a car mount.
[ Audio: Motorola Droid ]
And to think that only yesterday, I considered texting to be the most dangerous thing to do while driving. Heck, using the keyboard to type out a destination could be worlds safer than MS Sync. If you’re concerned about safe driving, forget about texting – ask your legislature today to ban long, emotion-inducing conversations with electronic devices. And for God’s sake, stay away from anybody driving a Navigator.