By on May 20, 2017

[Image: Ford]

It looks like Ford’s offer to update 2016 vehicles equipped with its SYNC 3 infotainment system with free Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity has a lot to do with some recent hires.

The automaker has announced it will allow owners of one-year-old vehicles to install the feature, which comes standard on all 2017 models, at no cost. The offer positions Ford near the cutting edge in automotive technology. For a company seeking a starring role in the tech-heavy mobility realm, this is exactly where it wants to be.

Ford says owners can add the newfound connectivity to their vehicles in a number of ways. The over-the-air update via Wi-Fi is a first for the company, but owners can also choose to download the SYNC 3 version 2.2 update to a USB or simply visit their dealer.

For 2016 Fords with Wi-Fi, owners will need to ensure their SYNC 3’s Automatic System Updates is turned on before the upgrade can download (which it will by itself).

The ability to offer the upgrade stems from the recent hiring of 400 mostly former Blackberry employees, Ford told TechCrunch. Those employees, brought on to staff the automaker’s new Research and Engineering Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, already have extensive knowledge of the QNX operating system behind the SYNC 3 system.

As the center ramps up its operations, expect other high-tech options to be made available to owners. TechCrunch notes that while the upgrade represents a new level of gee-whiz gizmology for Ford, it isn’t completely seamless. To install CarPlay, users must first upgrade the vehicle’s USB hub — something requiring a dealer visit.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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19 Comments on “Android Auto, Apple CarPlay Available to 2016 Ford Owners, if They Want It...”

  • avatar

    Auto manufacturers should keep a close eye on the radio/NAV/entertainment systems they offer, with an eye to keeping them up to date, and even offering upgrades for a fee. The pace of technology is so fast now that what’s found in a vehicle even a few years old looks archaic. A lot of folks who could afford a 4 year old car wouldn’t be able to purchase a new one, so having the ability to drag the 4 year old car’s technology forward at a reasonable cost might be good idea.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree, and it’s even more important when you consider that a 4 year old car really has 7 or 8 year old technology if you account for the dev cycle.

    • 0 avatar

      This is why they should have done phone integration differently. They should have developed a general API that allows the phone to use the car as an input device and a display device. The phone tech can continue to evolve and the car doesn’t need to keep up.

      They got too fancy.

  • avatar

    Having a car infortainment system that can’t be updated like this is going to be a problem for when these cars get older. Wish more would adapt the open technology alternatives.

    • 0 avatar

      Or we could just go back to a double-DIN standard opening that can be filled with any number of aftermarket options.

      HVAC and other auto systems should not be integrated into the infotainment system.

      • 0 avatar

        if you think OEM infotainment user interfaces are bad, just wait until you see the garbage in the aftermarket.

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve been using the garbage in the aftermarket for about two decades now and still haven’t seen the issues you keep complaining about.

          Any industry as consistently bad as you claim it is wouldn’t have thrived for this long.

          • 0 avatar

            Oh come on – with rare exception aftermarket stereos are blingtastic hot garbage when it comes to their interfaces. I’ve been slotting them into sundry cars for longer than you, and it is mostly a matter of putting up with it to get the sound quality and functionality.

            Today, there are a number of factory stereo systems that are just lightyears better than anything you can get aftermarket as far as the interface. Sound quality, weeeelllll… And of course, some still just completely suck for interface as well.

      • 0 avatar

        Toyota did this with Scion; much like write-ups of cars with column shifters, the reviewers always drew attention to it as being “old-fashioned.”

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          With the exception of the high-end vehicles (Touareg, Phaeton, etc…) Volkswagen used double-din interfaces until 2015 with the Mk.7 Golf, and 2016 with all of the other cars.

  • avatar

    Frankly, I’m surprised when a new car *doesn’t* offer CarPlay. After using it in a rental car, I wouldn’t buy a new car without it. The next best thing is a bluetooth system that doesn’t have its own voice assistant, and will patch me straight through to Siri, together with a magnetic dash mount for the phone.

    Somehow, the comm systems in cars that fall between tend to be the worse than either option.

  • avatar

    This may be more of a critique of society than of this feature, but why does this matter? I get that everything has to have bluetooth or it’s no good, and I get that people download gigabytes of music to the “phone” and thus the connection between them is convenient and desirable. My question is, do you actually listen to the 1,000 albums on your phone? Wouldn’t a DVD or thumb drive of your fav ten albums be more practical? Again I get, we’ll I’m carrying the Iphone anyway, but why? I’ll admit since 2002 I have nearly every day carried a cellular device but I’m starting to ask myself, why? What has gone on in this society that everyone needs everything 24/7? Wouldn’t it be nice to ditch these things and just cruise with your fav few albums late at night, or just at sunrise? Just random thoughts of a crazy man.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t have many albums on my phone – just a few favorites in case I have connection issues driving out in BFE. For the most part, I stream everything from Apple music. Often, the songs/albums I listen to are a spur of the moment thing: I ask siri to call up an album, and it’s there. I also use Stitcher to listen to Podcasts on my commute, and always have Waze up to give me traffic warnings and navigate around traffic jams.

      I can’t see where making a mid-2000’s style mix-CD or loading my music on a thumb drive would be more practical. The ability to send and receive text messages without taking my eyes off the road is just an added bonus.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t listen to music in the car but the hard drive in the kitchen computer at work (where I spend maybe 6 -12 hours per week, so comparable to a moderate commute) has a playlist that’s 16 weeks deep. The PC in my man cave is at uh, 176 weeks, 6 days, 6 hours, 34 minutes and 58 seconds. So, some of us need more variety than others.

    • 0 avatar
      tod stiles

      That right there IS crazy talk pardner. You just don’t know when or where you might need to listen to 475 albums. What sort of deranged individual would even consider walking or driving for that matter without ones nose firmly planted in ones cell device? Why would you even want or need to see anything other than what is in your cell screen?

      There are any number of things you must know at any moment. Why, Fred is eating a ham and cheese sandwich, you must see this. I’ve had it with Amy, there-unfriended on Facebook. That’ll show ‘er. And let’s crowbar in terrorists. They’re everywhere you know.

      You want to adjust the temperature of the heat in your automobile by reaching over and sliding a lever? How quaint. You say you want to just press a button to change the radio station without taking your eyes off the road? What’s a “radio station”?

      Wonder about the 17 pages of useless information that can be displayed on your infotainment screen? I bet Ooog and Og complained about having to turn up the thermostat on the wall rather than having to deal with those filthy fires.

  • avatar

    Car manufacturers offer software and upgrades for a set fee. Often initially free but costing up to $400 or more a year for ongoing use and upgrades.

    Ten-twelve years down the road, if the software subscription is still active, car manufacturers will be making hundreds of millions, more likely billions, of dollars on cars that left the show rooms over a decade earlier.

  • avatar

    GM had it as standard by the 2016 model year in all but WS, L and LS model levels.

  • avatar

    Automakers have been making a lot of money selling overpriced navigation options to customers who had redundant (and often better) solutions in their pockets. I think much of the reluctance to offering integration solutions has been not only the software’s slow development but also their reluctance to admit this gravy train was over.

    Bluetooth is essentially a requirement since many states have outlawed using cell phones without a hands-free solution. Full integration through CarPlay frankly isn’t much better from what I have experienced. I can already stream my music (sometimes with the Pandora app already in the car) make calls, and hear GPS directions… the only thing missing was having my map appear on the car’s screen, which I solved with a simple suction cup for my phone.

    My personal pet peeve is their omission of alternative navigation tools like Waze. I understand Apple sees money to be made by making their own software the standard, but as a consumer I don’t like it. And what future applications will be omitted from these proprietary systems?

  • avatar

    Mazda have hinted that this could happen on their newer cars with Mazda Connect infotainment systems, as well.

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