Ford has announced that its latest in car infotainment system, Sync 3, will be coming to Europe this July.
Initially Sync 3 will appear in limited new cars like the new Kuga, S-Max and Mondeo.
Sync 3 isn't all about its own platform, it actually plays nice with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Plus it supports apps adapted for the car and lets you play anything from your phone over Bluetooth.
There are plenty of new extras in Sync 3, which has been redesigned on a new operating system. We went hands-on to find out what we can expect from new Ford cars in Europe this July.
Ford Sync 3: A new beginning
Ford Sync has been around for years but it isn't until now that the platform has been truly free to grow. The previous build was based on Microsoft software which was rather limiting. Now Ford has rebuilt the system based on QNX, best known for its use in BlackBerry kit.
This new build should mean Ford is able to update, adapt and improve Sync 3 at its fastest rate ever. In turn that'll mean your new car is more future-proofed than any Ford before it.
Ford Sync 3: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
The Sync 3 system is the first line of controls in the car but if you prefer to run Android Auto or CarPlay, that's an option too. You simply plug in your phone using a USB cable and while it's charging the Google or Apple car OS is displayed full screen in the car.
This means you can use Google mapping via your phone if you want, using Android Auto, ideal for quickly finding places you've already searched out on your smartphone.
For Apple CarPlay you have access to Siri, allowing you to control the car via your voice with the chatty simplicity that Sri is known for.
Both mobile operating systems offer apps, read out messages that you can reply to and of course allow you to make calls. But then so does Sync 3.
Ford Sync 3: Smart interface
The newly designed interface on Sync 3 is far more tablet like and touch friendly than ever before. Now you're met with large icons and a responsive touch sensitive display ideal for driving. There are always section icons at the bottom and a home icon at the top so you can navigate to any area without worrying about getting lost in menus. Not that they are too complicated anyway.
There are plenty of physical buttons below the display but in our experience navigation was simple through the touchscreen. Of course Ford has its voice control integration too. Tap the button on the wheel and speak freely, for example saying "I need coffee" is enough to bring up sat nav results for nearby options.
Should you want to search in Sync 3, sat nav this is easier too. Rather than typing in post code and road name and the usual hassle, you can just search like you would using Google. It'll even remember previous searches or journeys and autofill so you don't have to type. Want a restaurant? Type the name and it'll find it, you can even use your voice to either navigate to or call the place.
Ford Sync 3: Apps
At the moment Ford doesn't have a huge amount of apps specifically for its Sync platform, topping out at around the 40 mark. But thanks to new partnerships, its hackathon events and ease of integration that should change.
At the moment apps like Spotify are standard allowing you to play music via your phone. The native music player app is also enhanced to pull in album cover art and song information for anything stored locally on your device.
It's the new apps that excite us though. One app, called MyBoxMan, allows anyone to make money from delivering items. Open and search for nearby jobs then accept to go pick up an item, deliver it and mark as done and the money will be put in your account. Simple. This will grow in the future with options like the ability to find jobs on a route you're already driving. This is very exciting indeed, imagine paying for fuel, and even making money, from a journey you were going to do anyway.
At a time where car hardware is developing faster than ever, software updates need to happen quickly. The Ford Sync 3 platform is a clean, easy to use and smart system that is now based on software that can be freely evolved. That future-proofing is invaluable when buying a new car.
Working with the likes of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto means the regular updates on your phone will instantly take effect in the car too.
Ford's active push in the app market should also mean not only apps that work with the car but ones developed specifically for it.
Ford is pushing innovation fast and Sync 3 is the embodiment of that progress. Here's hoping it rolls out to plenty more Ford cars after its European launch in July.