Dearborn, MI -- As much as Ford have tried to update their SYNC and MyFord Touch infotainment interfaces over the years, it would only go as far as its hardware could take it.
That means that while the graphics may change a little, and the fonts may be altered, you couldn’t get away from often-sluggish speeds and responsiveness.
Indeed, almost every story I've written -- and most I've read -- about Ford products has involved some complaint regarding SYNC. Not to mention that by Ford’s own admission, they’ve looked at more customer feedback for SYNC than any other tech they’ve produced.
Well, it appears that FoMoCo has taken all of this to heart and released SYNC 3, a comprehensive rebuild and re-imagining of the interface.
Gone are the four colour-coded quadrants on the touchscreen that were hard to reach, replaced by a root menu that exists along the bottom of the screen. It provides links to everything from your apps to your climate control. The screen itself is now brighter, features a whole new colour set, and is less susceptible to fingerprints.
It’s meant to look and function more like a tablet, which it does by making use of an all-new operating system developed by QNX. That’s an open source, so app developers are able to configure their apps to work within the Ford interface. Of course, that’s not new, but the smoothness with which the system’s on-hand operated at Ford’s home in Dearborn was something to behold.
It really does operate like a tablet. You can swipe screens left and right (or just use the panel below; no operation should take more than two button presses) and maps can be pinched as well, Google Maps-style. Which is good, because there’s no confirmation as of yet that you’ll be able to use your mobile apps with the new system. If Ford wants to keep up with the Joneses, however, they’ll eventually need to go this route, which they say they’re looking into. They’ll also want to look into turning the car into a wireless hotspot, which makes sense considering the need to update the system. Android and Apple CarPlay support is also in the works.
As of right now, updates will have to be done using wireless hotspots either at home or on the road.
Of course, when we think: “tablet,” the company that’s most likely to come to mind is probably Apple with its iPad. In a play to that crowd, SYNC 3 (or should we be saying “iSYNC3”…?) supports Siri voice recognition. Other improvements to voice recognition include the ability to say partial POI titles (“P.F. Chang’s” as opposed to “P.F. Chang’s Chinese Bistro” was the example they provided), and you won’t have to say every number of an address, either. That’s fantastic.
While old systems won’t be able to be upgraded to SYNC 3, Ford ensures that they will continue to be updated even after SYNC 3 development starts.
SYNC 3 will arrive in new cars next year.