Ford shows off polished new Sync 4 infotainment software

Goodbye, Sync 3, long live Sync 4

Ford Sync 4 infotainment system
Ford Sync 4 infotainment system / Image Credit: Ford
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Ford Sync 3 launched on various 2016 model year Ford vehicles, but now it’s time to begin sunsetting that tech in favor of the next iteration. Today, Ford is taking the wraps off its newest infotainment software, Sync 4. The new software is set to arrive on vehicles in 2020, but Ford isn’t saying which cars, or when in 2020, yet.

Even without using it, Sync 4 looks like an improvement we’ll welcome with open arms. It’s not as though Sync 3 was bad, but Sync 4’s capability looks much improved. To start, Ford says Sync 4 systems offer twice the computing power of Sync 3. This means things should move faster and smoother. The graphic set and look is refreshed, too. From the initial images and video demos, it looks much more polished than Sync 3.

Ford also designed it with larger screen sizes in mind. The software is optimized for screens that are between 8 inches and 15.5 inches in size. If Ford includes a 15.5-inch screen in a car, that’d put it ahead of the Tesla Model 3’s 15-inch center tablet. Our best guess for the implementation of such a screen would be in the next-gen F-150, or an EV. The Mustang-inspired EV crossover is coming soon, so we’ll be eagerly awaiting infotainment system news on that one. 

Since Ford plans on using such large screens in its cars, it also developed multitasking tools to display more than one thing on the screen at once. Ford says 12-inch screens will be able to split into two windows (one larger and one smaller window). This will allow you to display both your navigation and audio at once, similar to updates recently made to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 15.5-inch screens will let you go into “Adaptive Dash Cards” mode, where you can keep tabs of multiple menus at once. This might be a bit too much, but we’ll see how it works in practice. 

The next big advantage is its cloud connection capability. Your electric Ford will need to communicate with infrastructure to determine if electric car chargers are available, and Ford has already detailed this plan for us. It’ll also be able to understand conversational requests. Ford says a command like, “Find me the best Thai restaurant” will yield an accurate answer. It also features machine learning, so it’ll learn your routines and habits, the more you use it.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto will also be how you connect your smartphone device if you choose to forego the native Ford software. This makes Ford one of the few manufacturers to use the wireless versions of this tech, similar to Audi and BMW. Let's just hope it works better than BMW's interface.

Ford also announced that most redesigned vehicles released in and for 2020 will support over-the-air updates. It says the car will be able to wirelessly upgrade vehicles with “quality, capability and convenience updates.” Additionally, the update won’t render the car useless. It’ll install the update in the background and keep the current software running until the new version is ready to be activated.

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