News: Sync 3

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Clean Screen

After listening to customers, Ford introduces a more streamlined infotainment system

By Steve Turner
Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Company

On-board vehicle infotainment systems have become as important as styling and fuel economy when it comes to selling vehicles to mainstream consumers. At the forefront of this movement since it partnered with Microsoft to create the original SYNC system, Ford recently pulled the covers off the new SYNC 3 system.

Responding to customer research, Ford cleaned up the home screen with just three zones—navigation, audio, and phone. The “function tray” along the bottom allows easy access to Sync’s other functions.
Responding to customer research, Ford cleaned up the home screen with just three zones—navigation, audio, and phone. The “function tray” along the bottom allows easy access to SYNC’s other features.

The first offering born of Ford’s current partnership with Blackberry, SYNC 3 was not created in a vacuum. Instead, the companies relied on customer comments and research to craft a cleaner, more-user-friendly interface for the system. This revised system arrives in new Fords starting next year.

“Ford is delivering an easier way for customers to stay connected,” Raj Nair, Ford chief technical officer and group vice president, Global Product Development, said. “SYNC 3 is another step forward in delivering connectivity features customers most want, and they tell us this kind of technology is an important part of their decision to buy our vehicles.”

Ford says the new Sync 3 touchscreen acts more like a smartphone. The one box search lets you look up addresses and points of interest as you would with an Internet search engine.
Ford says the new Sync 3 touchscreen acts more like a smartphone. The one box search lets you look up addresses and points of interest as you would with an Internet search engine.

It should come as no surprise that the inspiration for many of the changes to the SYNC system comes from the same devices it is designed to control.

“We considered all the modern smartphones and mobile operating systems and created something familiar but unique,” Parrish Hanna, Ford global director of Human Machine Interface, said.

Besides simplifying the touchscreen interface, SYNC 3 also responds to more streamlined voice commands. You will no longer need to specify that you want it play an artist, album, or song. You can just say play and the name of what you want played. Likewise, the voice-activated navigation will respond to more general instructions, and even understand numerical shorthand. See it in action right here:

“Simplicity has value,” Parrish added. “Reducing the number of things on-screen also makes control easier and is designed to limit the number of times a driver has to glance at the screen.”

A cleaner, brighter layout of buttons is a hallmark of the Sync 3 interface.
A cleaner, brighter layout of buttons is a hallmark of the Sync 3 interface.

The system will also recognize AppLink-compatible apps—like iHeartRadio Auto, NPR One, Pandora, SiriusXM Radio, Spotify, and Stitcher—on your device and display them as optional sources. It will even show the app logo on the touchscreen if you want to switch between them by hand rather than by voice.

“Overall, AppLink is faster, more responsive and easier to find your apps,” Julius Marchwicki, Ford global product manager, AppLink, said. “The overall design of SYNC 3 allows for better integration with smartphones—resulting in a more user-friendly experience.”

Perhaps most exciting of all, SYNC 3 will be able to update itself over Wi-Fi from your garage or driveway. That means you won’t have to copy updates to a thumb drive and carry them out to the car anymore.

When Sync 3 is connected to an iPhone, you can use the push to talk button to activate Siri and ask her to help you out
When SYNC 3 is connected to an iPhone, you can use the push to talk button to activate Siri and ask her to help you out.
In Sync 3, AppLink automatically recognizes compatible apps and displays them as sources right alongside the radio, USB devices, and satellite radio. You can control them all with via voice.
In SYNC 3, AppLink automatically recognizes compatible apps and displays them as sources right alongside the radio, USB devices, and satellite radio. You can control them all with via voice.

Sync 3 Gallery

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10 thoughts on “News: Sync 3”

  1. Once again Ford build an entirely new system and abandons development of the existing flawed and non-functional systems with no path for update.

    Infotainment system has been one of Fords real problems for years. Sync 2 does not work well and many bugs were never fixed. In addition applink was promised several times over the last few years, first in 2011 models then again for 2013 models and now its been abandoned for all that do not have it. Thanks Ford.

    1. Car manufacturers need to have easier upgrades paths for both hardware and software. The reason why the 15 Mustang can’t be upgraded is the parts and labor costs would make it very unattractive to most consumers. It would be nice if these systems were designed to be modular for easy installation and reprograming.

  2. I still do not get why Ford or any car company doesn’t team up with Google. Imagine a Google maps navigation paired with Google Play Music with built in apps like Pandora and Spotify. You could have it integrated with android so it could do basically anything. Imagine that i think it would be sweet. All the code is there as far as media, camera, nav, bluetooth, audio/speakers it is all there and open source. it would be amazing

  3. I still do not get why Ford or any car company doesn’t team up with Google.

    Imagine a Google maps navigation paired with Google Play Music with built in apps like Pandora and Spotify. You could have it integrated with android so it could do basically anything. Imagine that i think it would be sweet. All the code is there as far as media, camera, nav, bluetooth, audio/speakers it is all there and open source. it would be amazingyou realize, this exist already right? Hyundai is making their cars work with both Apple Play and Android Auto, which ever device you plug in, Ford needs to follow suit……..

    http://www.android.com/auto/

  4. You realize, this exists already right? Hyundai is making their cars work with both Apple Play and Android Auto, which ever device you plug in, Ford needs to follow suit…

    http://www.android.com/auto/

    Interesting. Not completely what I was thinking of, but a good start I guess. I’m surprised kia and hyundai are using it

  5. so am I correct in assuming that current SYNC/Nav-equipped cars cannot be retrofitted with the new software, since current hardware is Microsoft, and “new” hardware will be Blackberry?

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