Ford’s Sync in-car infotainment system was announced in 2007 as part of a partnership between the automaker and Microsoft. Built on the software giant’s Windows Embedded Automotive operating system, Sync has since become available to customers on both Ford and Lincoln vehicles, but with Ford’s new Sync 3, Microsoft and its software are no longer involved.
The new system is built on QNX, a BlackBerry-owned operating system, and is designed to operate very much like a smartphone. Although Sync 3 is designed to be used hands-free, it does improve on the touchscreen experience greatly by replacing the previous resistive touchscreens with capacitive ones. Touch input is now much more responsive, and it also makes use of multi-touch gestures like pinch-to-zoom.
“SYNC 3 – Ford’s new communications and entertainment system – features faster performance, more conversational voice recognition, a more intuitive smartphone-like touch screen and easier-to-understand graphical interface to help Ford customers connect and control their smartphone on the road” – Ford
The new Sync also includes some rather intelligent features. For example, the AppLink feature allows the system to tap into Bluetooth-connected smartphones and scan its application list for use with voice. Compatible apps such as Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM Radio, and iHeartRadio among others will show up on the in-car display for easy access and control. Sync 3 will also automatically dial 911 via a user’s smartphone in the event of a serious accident.
Ford has confirmed though that the current Microsoft-based Sync systems have yet to be discontinued and will receive updates in the future. But for how long into the future the company has not mentioned.
"Microsoft has worked with us very closely improving the experience of MyFord Touch. We continue to work together." – Don Butler, head of the Connected Vehicles Unit, Ford.
Current vehicles with older versions of Sync will not be able to upgrade to the new system without buying a completely new Ford with Sync 3. Ford plans to include Sync 3 in its entire Ford and Lincoln lineup by the end of 2016 and this all starts in 2015.