Ford's next-generation Sync 4 communications and entertainment system will add more smart and connected features, along with twice the computing power of Sync 3 to allow for faster and easier navigation, music, and smartphone connections.
New cloud connectivity combines conversational voice recognition with internet search results, so drivers and passengers always have access to the latest information. You can keep up with the latest traffic information, browser digital owner's manuals, and wirelessly connect with Apple CarPlay Android Auto, and AppLink apps from smartphones and other mobile devices. Tailored to run on a variety of new touchscreen displays available, from 8 up to 15.5" in size, Sync 4 includes enhanced multi-tasking to simultaneously display different features at the same time, and cord-free compatibility with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Sync AppLink.
Sync 4 will have machine learning capability to automatically learn your preferences and make helpful suggestions at the right time based on previous usage.
"Sync has always featured the best of Ford innovation to help our customers manage and stay connected to their busy lives as they move about the world," says Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's Chief Product Development & Purchasing Officer. "With this new fourth-generation technology, we've evolved Sync into an intelligent, voice-activated, in-car digital assistant."
Ford's new Sync 4 system will feature different looks and capabilities depending on the vehicle, screen size, and customer needs.
On all-new available 12-inch screens, multi-tasking will be enabled by splitting the screen into larger and smaller windows. For example, if a customer wants to keep their navigation route on the screen while changing songs, they can choose to display the radio or other streaming music services in the smaller display area. Customers will be able to quickly scroll through nine features to display as Information on Demand, making Sync 4 easier to use.
With large 15.5-inch screens, Sync 4 features the addition of Adaptive Dash Cards. Instead of having to navigate menus every time you want to launch an app, recently used or popular features are listed horizontally underneath the main portion of the screen in individual dash cards. These cards display helpful information such as the next step on your route, but they are interactive as well. You can pause or skip songs directly through the card instead of having to bring up your music player, and similarly, you can view your phone status or hang up calls through the card as well.
"No matter what size screen Ford customers choose, they will be getting an experience tailor-made for their vehicle," says Gary Jablonski, Chief Engineer for Sync technology, Ford Motor Company. "Sync 4 puts these high-definition screens to work not only by offering even crisper displays, but also by making driving easier with new multi-tasking capabilities."
Every new Ford vehicle comes with optional FordPass Connect with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot, and cloud connectivity comes standard to Sync 4.
Navigation is fully connected to and informed by the internet with maps that are frequently refreshed with the latest available traffic and construction information, ensuring customers are getting the most up-to-date information for their routes. Ford also equipped SYNC 4 with optional navigation with the ability to share parking space availability and prices.
By taking advantage of state-of-the-art, cloud-based voice processing, Sync 4 can understand conversational requests, such as "Find me the best Thai restaurant," and offer data-based suggestions to drivers. Staying in contact with friends and family also becomes easier, with natural speech recognition enabling communication via SMS and e-mail.
While Sync 4 will rely heavily on the cloud, it will still retain on-board processing power to minimize performance issues in dead zones, meaning your road trip is in good hands even when you go off the beaten path.
Available machine learning capability also means Sync 4 can automatically learn your preferences and make helpful suggestions at the right time based on previous usage. Sync 4 will make destination suggestions based on your previous navigation behaviour and can even prompt you to make phone calls to people that you frequently speak to.
With more customers pairing smartphones and mobile devices to their vehicles, Ford is including wireless implementation of both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Sync AppLink apps such as Waze.
Customers will continue to be able to use both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to enable simultaneous operation of in-vehicle entertainment and mobile device navigation while providing calls, music, and other features to be controlled through the vehicle's display. Available wireless charging capability also means you can juice up your compatible smartphone even while leaving the cords at home.
In addition to these features, Convenience Controls enabled by AppLink allow for the control of various vehicle features when equipped, right from your smartphone, such as lighting, climate, or the radio.
There's a new digital owner's manual: instead of flipping through dozens of pages, the digital owner's manual will include in-depth information on vehicle features, streamable how-to videos to help you learn, and more, all through a searchable database.
Sync 4 customers will also be able to take full advantage of SiriusXM with 360L to offer a more personalized experience.
The new SYNC 4 system will be available on select Ford vehicles starting in 2020.
Additionally, in 2020, Ford will begin equipping most redesigned vehicles in Canada and the U.S. with advanced over-the-air update (OTA) technology, making it easy to wirelessly upgrade vehicles to help improve them over time and reduce dealer trips.
Ford expects to deliver its first updates about six months after launching the first vehicles with the capability in 2020. Other updates could add new features to your vehicle, such as when Ford added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility to Sync 3 through USB and Wi-Fi updates several years ago.
Some updates will be virtually invisible to customers, enabled by an innovative platform that installs much of the new software in the background. This new platform keeps current software running until the new version is ready for activation - something that no other vehicle, or even some popular smartphones, can do today.
"Computer updates that require reboots seem to come at the most inconvenient times, which is why we wanted to make our updates as invisible to customers as possible," says Don Butler, Executive Director, Connected Vehicle and Services, Ford Motor Company.
Customers can select a regular time they are not using the vehicle - such as the middle of the night for many - to schedule updates when their vehicle is off, meaning they may not even notice the installation occurred until they start their car. Most other updates can be activated in under two minutes, while any updates that may require the vehicle to be parked can be scheduled to take place when customers find it most convenient.
Customers can receive notifications detailing the software updates when they are available and can even opt in to have the updates applied automatically over Wi-Fi or cellular connections. In-vehicle alerts will then tell customers what updates were installed when they start the vehicle the next time.