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Technology is an increasingly important measuring stick in the automotive industry, so Ford chose to give current and future owners an array of connectivity features for free rather than charging for them. The changes is effective immediately, and it gives Ford an advantage over its rivals.

Motorists whose Ford is equipped with FordPass no longer need to pay annually for it. The software lets owners start their car remotely, lock or unlock it, find it in a parking lot, and get its bill of health by simply tapping their phone's screen a few times. Using these features requires downloading a free app compatible with both Android and Apple devices, and taking a few minutes to set it up.

FordPass was previously available through one-, two-, or five-year subscriptions. The company noted owners of General Motors-made cars equipped with OnStar pay $14.99 per month to unlock similar features, while Toyota priced its smartphone-based connectivity suite at $8 per month once a three-month trial ends.

Terms and conditions apply, unsurprisingly. Instructing a car to start itself requires an AT&T network, so the features might not work in remote areas where cell reception is spotty. In-car Wi-Fi is still optional, and not every car Ford makes is compatible with FordPass. The feature is not available on the entry-level EcoSport S, for example, The Expedition XL isn't FordPass-ready, either, and the feature is optional on the XLT model. If you've got a Mustang EcoBoost, you'll need to walk out to it and start it the old-fashioned way, and make it a point to remember where you parked it.

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