- ford will put sync 4 infotainment software on upcoming models; it can learn your habits and connects to the cloud and the user's smartphone wirelessly.
- new over-the-air updates for ford vehicles will be "virtually invisible to customers."
- all this tech, on touchscreens from eight to more than 15 inches, will start coming to new and redesigned fords in 2020. which ones? ford isn't saying yet.
ford is bringing big updates to the increasingly big screens in its upcoming vehicles. some of those updates will come in the form of an advanced version of the over-the-air technology that the company promises will be "virtually invisible to customers." the other will be through the introduction of sync 4, the latest version of ford's in-dash software, to select ford vehicles that the automaker has not yet named.
since the 2016 model year, ford vehicles that have the sync 3 with navigation infotainment system have been updatable using wi-fi or with a usb drive that has the new code on it. with this now improved over-the-air (ota) service, when ford pushes an update to vehicles, the cars will download the new software in the background but keep running the current software until it can activate the new version. this update method is "something that no other vehicle, or even some popular smartphones, can do today," ford says.
sync 4 for new big screens
continuing with the wireless theme, one of the big improvements in sync 4 is cloud connectivity for improved performance, as well as cord-free compatibility with apple carplay, android auto, and sync applink. the stronger cloud connection will let drivers have easier conversations with their cars to search for information on restaurants, the nearest electric-vehicle charge station, or sending texts or emails. cloud connectivity will come standard with vehicles that have sync 4. wireless charging for phones will also be available.
sync 4 is meant to run on touchscreen displays that range from 8.0 (such as on the 2020 escape) to 15.5 inches. on all sizes, including ford's new 12.0-inch screens, the view can be broken into multitasking windows, letting the driver see the nav map and music at the same time, for example. there will be nine different window categories that can be mixed and matched with sync 4 in this format.
on the 15.5-inch screens, sync 4 gets a bit smarter with adaptive dash cards. features that have been recently used or used a lot will automatically fill in little dash cards at the bottom of the screen. these aren't just tabs that will call up a full-size window, but mini-menus that can be used to control music, for example, or show upcoming navigation messages.
other machine learning capabilities built into sync 4 mean a 2020 ford might automatically make "helpful suggestions at the right time based on previous usage," for example. ford says sync 4 "can even prompt you to make phone calls to people that you frequently speak to." your mother would be proud.
how far off is a sync 5? we wondered. or will there just be iterative updates to sync 4 from here on out, in the same way that mac os x is still os x but gets updates every year or so? c/d asked sync chief engineer gary jablonski, who said only that ford "plans to continue leading connected vehicle innovation going forward."