Ford Ditches Microsoft For QNX In Newest In-Car Tech Platform
Ford at the moment took the wraps off its subsequent era in-automotive know-how package deal. Referred to as Sync three, it’s expectedly quicker, sleeker and far improved from the previous one. It’s additionally extra intuitive, simpler on the eyes and higher integrates smartphone apps. However the largest change is underneath the hood: Sync three is powered by QNX as an alternative of Microsoft Auto.
Ford rolled out the unique Sync previous to the recession. The system was up to date to 2.zero a number of years in the past. When first launched, it was novel within the infotainment area. The platform introduced as we speak is Ford’s third go at infotainment and from my restricted expertise with the Sync three, it’s dramatically higher than its predecessors.
Earlier variations of Sync are a multitude. Most these days seen within the MyFord Contact variation, it mixed a touchscreen interface with smartphone capabilities. It was a mishmash of colours, options and management schemes. Worse but, it’s sluggish. There was a notable quantity of lag. Shopper Studies suggested readers to not purchase a brand new Ford or Lincoln due to MyFord Contact. It’s that dangerous.
MyFord Contact and Sync wanted an entire overhaul.
Chatting with a small group of journalists deep in a Ford compound, Raj Nair, VP and CTO of Ford, stated this new platform was probably the most researched product in Ford’s historical past. They acquired suggestions from 22,000 shoppers and Ford house owners. It took 18 months to develop the infotainmenet system and almost every part is totally different from the earlier model.
Gone is the Microsoft Auto platform of previous and instead is a QNX working system operating on a Texas Devices hardware. Sadly, because the new Sync runs on a completely totally different hardware, automobiles that shipped with the previous model won’t get the brand new hotness.
The change in platform is noticeable. Sync three is now snappy and responsive. The trace of lag is gone. It’s clear and cohesive. Switching between screens and menu choices is a clean activity and harking back to trendy cellular units — which is seemingly what Ford was going to.
Nair defined that Ford engineers and designers benchmarked the consumer expertise towards smartphone and tablets. Sync offers comparable performance together with pinch-to-zoom, clean scrolling and most noticeably, a persistent menu bar situated on the backside of the display.
Up till now Sync used a novel however convoluted menu scheme. To entry the 4 totally different elements of the system, the menu buttons have been situated within the 4 corners. It made choosing these choices straightforward whereas not wanting. Need the radio? Hit someplace within the backside left of the display. However the controls weren’t intuitive. I couldn’t determine it out the primary time I used it, and for an automaker courting consumers from 19 to ninety one, all the things must be fashionable however apparent.
The brand new Sync now works like a pill. There are six buttons on the backside of the display. Hit one and go. They’re all the time seen besides when navigating, once they sink into the underside of the display to disclose extra of the map.
The management scheme is harking back to Chrysler’s Uconnect, however Ford’s design is extra understated. For higher or worse, it’s cleaner and fewer flashy bordering on boring. However it works, and that’s an important factor.
Sync now makes it as straightforward to make use of a smartphone app because the FM radio. One of many backside nav bar buttons takes customers to an app menu and media apps like Pandora may also have a button on the audio tab subsequent to the AM and FM choice. Ford found that eighty % of its drivers personal smartphones and this redesigned app scheme ought to permit for simpler use of smartphone apps whereas driving.
Ford labored with choose app builders for the Sync three launch. When it hits the primary automobiles, Spotify, Pandora, Stitcher, NPR One, SiriusXM Radio and iHeartRadio Auto will probably be out there.
Apart from the brand new look, map search appears to be some of the improved points. When looking for a enterprise or focal point, the system will current advised places. For example, if a consumer begins typing a phrase that begins with “W”, it should recommend Walmart, Walgreen or the like. This info is offered by Telnav and is saved regionally together with the map knowledge.
Ford took steps to enhance the voice search however the general scheme is identical. Customers need to step by means of spoken menu choices to get the most effective outcome. Fortunately it’s now sensible sufficient to determine factors of curiosity with out the driving force talking the complete identify. For example, Sync three ought to acknowledge “Detroit Airport” as an alternative of requiring “Detroit Metropolitan Airport”.
Software program updates come by means of Wifi. All automobiles outfitted with the brand new model of Sync will even be loaded with a WIFI receiver, permitting Ford to push software program updates to Sync. However solely Sync. Nair said emphatically that there’s a “exhausting and quick” firewall between Sync and “mission essential techniques” within the automotive. A number of occasions a month, when in a recognized WIFI community, the automotive will verify to see if an replace is accessible and, in that case, obtain it with out intervention from the proprietor.
At launch, map updates will not be free. A Ford consultant advised me that the corporate is exploring all enterprise fashions.
Ford’s upscale model Lincoln may also obtain the brand new infortainment platform however with a unique shade palette. It can have the identical capabilities, although.
Ford continues to be exploring all choices with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. I used to be advised that each are nonetheless on Ford’s roadmap. This new model of Sync packs improved Siri integration, nevertheless it’s nowhere as strong as Apple’s personal in-car providing.
Sync three is unfortunately not suitable with Sync 2 hardware. The system will roll out to new automobiles beginning subsequent yr. I spent just some minutes interacting with Sync three, however it was instantly obvious that it’s a massive enchancment over its predecessor. Sync three isn’t as flash as infotainment techniques from Audi or BMW. It’s not as glossy as Chrysler’s Uconnect, but it really works nicely. And for many consumers that’s all they need.