FORD'S SYNC in-car entertainment system will soon be able to offer drivers the ability to "tag" songs they hear on the car radio which can later be downloaded.
Available in select Ford models in the US since 2008, it's a feature that has appeal to both music aficionados and - surprisingly - record companies.
In vehicles fitted with both SYNC and a High-Definition radio, the driver or passenger simply presses the "tag" button on the car's centre console whenever they hear a song that they like.
When a compatible iPod is plugged into the SYNC system's USB input, the tag data is then uploaded to the iPod as a playlist.
Later, when the iPod is plugged into computer, Apple's iTunes software downloads this playlist and allows the user to preview and purchase individual songs online. The system can store tag data for up to 100 songs before running out of memory.
Now in its third generation, SYNC was developed by Ford in conjunction with Microsoft and has been offered on 12 different Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models in North America since 2008.
The iTunes tagging feature is new for 2010, but SYNC's existing features include the ability to pair wirelessly with most mobile phones and popular music players, read out text messages to the driver, and enable drivers to browse music folders and dial numbers using voice commands alone.
Turn-by-turn navigation instructions can also be issued by SYNC, as can weather information, news reports and searchable business directories.
Ford Australia has not given a timeline on when SYNC will be available in its local line-up. However, Ford US CEO Alan Mulally revealed at the start of this year that a global roll-out of the technology will soon begin in Europe, followed by Japan and Australia.
The US-market 2011 Fiesta is currently expected to see SYNC on its options list, which makes it a likely candidate to bring the technology to our shores.