Ever since it was launched in 2007, Ford’s SYNC in-car entertainment and communications system has pioneered the infotainment game. Sure, it’s had its quirks along the way, but by and large, SYNC has been everything that Ford has hyped it to be. Now that it’s on its third-generation - aptly titled SYNC 3 - the system is set to welcome Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into the fold, allowing Sync 3-equipped cars to benefit from the services that the two platforms provide for their respective users.
Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are expected to enhance the level of connectivity for iPhone and Android users. Each platform has a different method of offering these services, but both cover a gamut of useful tools that would provide massive benefits for the driver.
In addition to the introduction of the two mobile phone platforms, Ford has also promised a number of new apps for SYNC 3 that can be accessed through AppLink. Whether it’s on-the-road tools like the AAA app for US residents and CAA app for Canadian residents, or entertainment search apps like Eventseeker and Cityseeker, SYNC 3 will be able to offer these services beginning with all vehicles sold in North America as 2017 models. The new Ford Escape will get first dibs on the system, followed by other 2017 models. Even owners of 2016 models are going to have the chance to upgrade their SYNC systems, although that’s expected to happen "later this year".
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Why it matters
I’ve admittedly had my issues with Ford’s SYNC infotainment system in the past, but even with all the hiccups, I’ve always found it to be one of the better ones on the market.
Hearing about these additions is pretty exciting, but like most things that have to do with connectivity, it’s always best to hold the judgment until you’ve tried it out personally. That’s what I plan to do. I’m eager to see how compatible the Apple CarPlay and the Android Auto platforms are to SYNC. Will it be a seamless connection or will it be rife with bugs and such? I’ve had some experience on the latter and I can tell you it can get annoying pretty quickly.
But, as I said, judgment won’t be made until I see it for myself. I like where it’s going, that much I can say. The Eventseeker and Cityseeker apps, for instance, are welcome additions into the fold. Same thing with the AAA and Concur apps. Those should be mighty useful when the situation calls for it.
I just hope these additions perform as well as they’ve been advertised.
Ford is expanding its SYNC® connectivity system, adding Apple CarPlay, Android Auto™, 4G LTE and several new AppLink™ apps to help millions of consumers stay connected behind the wheel and even when they are away from their cars.
“SYNC allows customers to bring the smartphone technology they’re comfortable with into a vehicle and use it without hassle,” said Don Butler, Ford executive director, Connected Vehicle and Services. “With SYNC, we move at our customers’ pace – making it easy for them to maintain a connected lifestyle no matter their choice of smartphone, apps or services inside and outside their vehicle.”
With more than 15 million SYNC-equipped vehicles on roads around the world today and 43 million expected by 2020, Ford’s industry-leading communications and entertainment technology is offering customers even more connectivity. Connectivity is one part of FordSmart Mobility, the plan to take the company to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics.
Starting this year, owners of SYNC 3-equipped vehicles will have more choice in how they access their smartphones in the car. iPhone users can activate Apple CarPlay, and Android users can activate Android Auto, two interfaces built specifically for those types of smartphones.
In addition, new SYNC Connect technology powered by 4G LTE gives owners the ability to remotely access features of their car. Owners can program a remote start, unlock doors, check fuel level or locate a parked vehicle via their smartphone.
In North America, Ford is making Apple CarPlay and Android Auto available on all 2017
vehicles equipped with SYNC 3, starting with the all-new Ford Escape. Owners of 2016 vehicles equipped with SYNC 3 will have an opportunity to upgrade later in the year.
SYNC Connect technology expands globally, reaching more than 20 million customers by 2020.
Take your apps with you
With AppLink – the SYNC feature enabling drivers to voice-control smartphone apps from the driver’s seat – Ford is making it even easier to create unique, personalized experiences.
The first apps using available vehicle information such as GPS location and mileage will be available this year, taking the in-car app experience to a more personal and customized level. Apps include:
AAA/CAA: The app for AAA members in the U.S. and CAA members in Canada uses vehicle GPS data to allow users to access fuel prices, locate fueling stations and use the Here2there route planning feature, which includes traffic, on the move
Concur: Upon starting a Ford vehicle, Concur users receive a prompt asking if they want to log a business trip. The app then starts clocking mileage from the odometer using vehicle data. Each time the car is turned off, this constitutes one trip recorded in the Trace Trip Journal. At the end of the day, the journal is complete, and the driver is prompted to reconcile the day’s trips
Eventseeker: Users can discover events from behind the wheel that fit their interest profile based on vehicle location data, finding out more about artists playing nearby, wherever they travel in their Ford vehicle
Cityseeker: Vehicle GPS data brings the best restaurants, nightlife and other attractions in more than 500 cities worldwide directly to the driver
Tencent Chelian: Drivers can access China’s most popular social media platform, QQ’s messaging app, as well as music, real-time traffic conditions and streaming radio
Ford is further enhancing AppLink capabilities for developers. A new Send Location feature allows an app to integrate directly with the vehicle navigation system to provide seamless operation without the user having to touch his or her phone.
Debuting on Glympse, the vehicle automatically recognizes if a driver is actively sharing the real-time location via the app. SYNC AppLink will ask if the driver would like to be routed to that destination. The driver can then press Yes to start turn-by-turn navigation.
Apple CarPlay is compatible with iPhone 5 and later models. It works by plugging in the iPhone via USB, then the CarPlay interface appears on the touch screen. Apple CarPlay features Siri voice control, and seamlessly integrates an iPhone with the car’s built-in display and controls.
The integration makes it easy to make phone calls, access music, send and receive messages, get directions optimized for traffic conditions and other features – all while keeping your eyes on the road.
Users of Android devices 5.0 and higher can bring their smartphone experience into their vehicle safely and easily. Convenient information, including Google Maps, Google Play Music and apps are projected onto the SYNC screen, offering seamless integration of the smartphone into the car. Google voice search answers any questions customers may have also while on the road.
SYNC: Nearly a decade of connectivity leadership
Ford SYNC is the world’s leading in-car entertainment and communications system, with more than 15 million vehicles on the road worldwide.
Launched in 2007, Ford SYNC was the industry’s first system to widely and most affordably offer voice-activated technology to control smartphones. The latest-generation system – SYNC 3 – features all-new hardware and software for faster performance, more conversational voice recognition, a smartphone-like touch screen, and easier-to-understand graphical interface for a growing number of Ford vehicles in North America.