Ford’s new SYNC 2 infotainment platform is cool, but you know what’s even cooler? SYNC 3.
The SYNC 2 system has only lately begun to make its way across the company’s Australian range, but soon it will be booted out for a shiny new successor.
Also booted is Microsoft, Ford’s partner on the previous SYNC platforms, dumped in favour of Blackberry’s QNX operating system.
There’s more riding on SYNC 3 than just the delivery of handy features, however, with Ford - and Blackberry - now facing off against powerful new platforms in Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay.
Both of those major tech rivals have secured partnerships with a number of carmakers, many clearly aware that infotainment is best left to those that specialise in it. (Google wouldn’t build a car, after all. Actually, wait…)
Visually, SYNC 3 is a more polished package than the current version, swapping out the black background and glassy buttons for a lighter and flatter look that follows the trend laid out with Apple iOS, Windows 8 and Google’s Android.
The new platform focuses on greater useability, with larger buttons and mobile-inspired features like multi-touch and pinch-to-zoom.
The usual options are still there: navigation, entertainment, phone connectivity, but it’s all larger and cleaner.
But, despite the larger buttons, Ford says it has developed SYNC 3 with voice control in mind, expanding on the already powerful options offered with SYNC 2.
Like Android Auto and CarPlay, SYNC 3 users will be able to say “Play ‘Mustang Sally’”, and so it shall.
And although SYNC 3 is built on a Blackberry platform, connectivity with the ever-popular iPhone remained a priority, so Siri voice commands are also supported at the push of a steering-mounted button.
Android also gets a look-in, with Ford’s AppLink system upgraded to allow certain Apple and Android apps to run with SYNC 3, although the store will have a number of its own apps, including the Spotify and Pandora music apps.
SYNC 3 also runs on more powerful hardware than any offered in a Ford right now, with a poll of owners revealing that - no surprise here - more speed was the number-one desire among users.
The new platform will hit Ford’s US-market models in 2015, so we can likely expect it to appear in Australian models in early 2016.