Ford is replacing the much-reviled MyFord Touch with a new infotainment system based on Sync AppLink, its more successful in-dash connected car platform. The new system will be called Sync 3, and it will start rolling off lots in model year 2015 Fords and Lincolns and completely replace MyFord Touch in 2016.
The nomenclature [company]Ford[/company] uses for its connected car system is a bit confusing because, like all automakers, Ford has different hardware and software packages for different vehicles. Ford just takes the extra-confusing step of giving all them different names. What it boils down to is this is: Sync is the name of the voice command and control system available in almost all Ford vehicles. AppLink is the operating system available in many Sync-enabled Fords that lets you integrate apps from your smartphone into the dashboard. Finally, MyFord Touch (or MyLincoln Touch) is the touchscreen-controlled infotainment system used in fancier cars and trucks.
The odd thing is that Ford’s lower-end platform, AppLink, has been far more successful and useful than its higher-end platform. MyFord Touch doesn’t support third-party apps like music streaming services. It was panned by consumers and critcs for being slow and awkward to use, and even Ford chairman and namesake Bill Ford admitted the system was a dud when it first launched.
Ford has been fixing those problems over the last two years. But it seems that now the company is ready to throw in the towel, and you can’t really blame it given that it has the far better technology in AppLink to fall back on. Ford is also switching up vendors for Sync 3, replacing [company]Microsoft[/company] as the core OS provider with [company]BlackBerry[/company]’s QNX automotive platform.
According to Don Butler, Ford executive director of connected vehicles and services, Sync 3 will remain in MyFord’s upscale category, becoming standard in high-end Fords and Lincolns and an option in mid-range vehicles. While it will have the same voice command and app features as lower-end Sync AppLink vehicles, it will support a larger capacitive touchscreen, letting drivers use pinch and swipe gestures the way they do on tablets.
Butler added that Sync 3 will also sport simpler, more intuitive voice commands. Instead of commanding your car to “Play Artist: Beyonce,” you can just say “Play Beyonce” or name a song or album. The system should be smart enough to figure out what you mean.
Sync 3 will also introduce direct integration with Siri Eyes Free, which means you’ll be able to use the iPhone’s voice assistant features with one long push of the command button on the steering wheel and interact with Siri over the car’s user interface. That’s not the same thing as support for CarPlay, which will bring [company]Apple[/company] services and third-party iPhone apps into the dashboard. Butler said CarPlay and Android Auto integration are coming, but wouldn’t reveal a timeline.
With AppLink, Sync 3 will be able to grok with your phone, accessing dozens of different apps from [company]Pandora[/company] and Spotify to Glympse and Scout. I’ve been a bit surprised that Ford hasn’t announced support for any new AppLink apps lately — and it’s doing very little to publicize the apps it does support — but maybe that will change with the overhaul of Sync.
Finally, there’s one more feature worth mentioning. Sync 3 will be able to connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network while your car is sitting in your garage. At first, Ford is using that for updates so when Sync 3.1 emerges you won’t have to upgrade your system at your dealer or with a USB drive. But Butler said Ford has bigger plans to use that wireless interface to connect your vehicle to the cloud and the connected home.