Ford aims to delight users with SYNC 3 and Smart Mobility Plan

Ford SYNC3

Ford has decided to take the game to the next level through innovations, collaborations and smarter use of advanced telematics. Ford highlighted how it will use innovation to create sophisticated vehicles and change the way the world travels by addressing the global transportation challenges.

Its Smart Mobility plan envisions how transportation will evolve 10 years hence and promises to take the company to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles and data & analytics thereby transforming the way you drive or travel in a Ford vehicle.

Its in-vehicle communications and entertainment system Ford SYNC which made a debut at the Detroit International Auto Show in 2007 is today empowering more than 15 million vehicles worldwide. The latest generation system – SYNC 3 – features all-new hardware and software for faster performance, more conversational voice recognition, a smartphone-like touch screen, and easier-to-understand graphical interface for an ever growing number of Ford vehicles in North America. Starting this year, owners of SYNC 3-equipped vehicles will have more choice in how they access their smartphones in the car.

Ford is also exploring linking smart devices like Amazon Echo and Wink to its vehicles to allow consumers to control lights, thermostats, security systems and other features of their homes from their car, and to stop, start, lock, unlock and check their vehicle’s fuel range from the comforts of their couch.

Currently, Ford is expanding its SYNC® connectivity system, adding Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 4G LTE and several new AppLink apps to help millions of consumers stay connected behind the wheel and even when they are away from their cars. iPhone users can activate Apple CarPlay, and Android users can activate Android Auto, two interfaces built specifically for those types of smartphones.

In addition, new SYNC Connect technology powered by 4G LTE gives owners the ability to remotely access features of their car. Owners can program a remote start, unlock doors, check fuel level or locate a parked vehicle via their smartphone.

In North America, Ford is making Apple CarPlay and Android Auto available on all 2017 vehicles equipped with SYNC 3, starting with the all-new Ford Escape. Owners of 2016 vehicles equipped with SYNC 3 will have an opportunity to upgrade later in the year.

Take your apps with you: With AppLink – the SYNC feature enabling drivers to voice-control smartphone apps from the driver’s seat, Ford is making it even easier to create unique, personalized experiences.

The first apps using available vehicle information such as GPS location and mileage will be available this year, taking the in-car app experience to a more personal and customized level. Apps include:

AAA/CAA: The app for AAA members in the U.S. and CAA members in Canada uses vehicle GPS data to allow users to access fuel prices, locate fueling stations and use the Here2there route planning feature, which includes traffic, on the move

Concur: Upon starting a Ford vehicle, Concur users receive a prompt asking if they want to log a business trip. The app then starts clocking mileage from the odometer using vehicle data. Each time the car is turned off, this constitutes one trip recorded in the Trace Trip Journal. At the end of the day, the journal is complete, and the driver is prompted to reconcile the day’s trips

Eventseeker: Users can discover events from behind the wheel that fit their interest profile based on vehicle location data, finding out more about artists playing nearby, wherever they travel in their Ford vehicle

Cityseeker: Vehicle GPS data brings the best restaurants, nightlife and other attractions in more than 500 cities worldwide directly to the driver

Tencent Chelian: Drivers can access China’s most popular social media platform, QQ’s messaging app, as well as music, real-time traffic conditions and streaming radio

Ford is further enhancing AppLink capabilities for developers. A new Send Location feature allows an app to integrate directly with the vehicle navigation system to provide seamless operation without the user having to touch his or her phone.

Debuting on Glympse, the vehicle automatically recognizes if a driver is actively sharing the real-time location via the app. SYNC AppLink will ask if the driver would like to be routed to that destination. The driver can then press Yes to start turn-by-turn navigation.

Apple CarPlay: Apple CarPlay is compatible with iPhone 5 and later models. It works by plugging in the iPhone via USB, then the CarPlay interface appears on the touch screen. Apple CarPlay features Siri voice control, and seamlessly integrates an iPhone with the car’s built-in display and controls. The integration makes it easy to make phone calls, access music, send and receive messages, get directions optimized for traffic conditions and other features – all while keeping your eyes on the road.

Android Auto: Users of Android devices 5.0 and higher can bring their smartphone experience into their vehicle safely and easily. Convenient information, including Google Maps, Google Play Music and apps are projected onto the SYNC screen, offering seamless integration of the smartphone into the car. Google voice search answers any questions customers may have also while on the road.

“Consumers increasingly want to stay connected to their homes while on the move,” said Don Butler, Ford executive director, Connected Vehicle and Services. “Linking smart devices like Amazon Echo and Wink to vehicles via SYNC would fulfill that desire, and allow consumers to connect with their vehicles even when they aren’t behind the wheel.”

SYNC Connect and Amazon Echo

Ford is looking to use new SYNC Connect technology to link vehicles with the Amazon cloud-based voice service Alexa, which would allow customers to access their vehicle from inside their home. Using Amazon Echo, a hands-free speaker and voice command device that interfaces with Alexa, Ford owners could request assistance with various functions of their car including:

  • Start/stop the vehicle
  • Lock/unlock
  • State range & charge status of the electric vehicle
  • Check fuel level/miles-to-empty
  • State vehicle mileage summary
  • Provide vehicle location with street name and driving time/mileage home

Alexa also provides a link to a variety of Internet-enabled smart devices, such as lights, home security systems, automatic garage doors and more.

SYNC AppLink and Wink

Ford also is working with Wink, the smart home platform that brings together smart home devices from many different companies. Compatibility with SYNC AppLink enables Wink users to easily control and automate their smart home device on the dashboard of their car or through voice control.

For example, a driver nearing home could have the option to either press a button or say a command that opens the garage door, turns on the lights, and unlocks the front door.

To sum up all the futuristic ideas and programs of Ford, we can conclude that Ford has stayed focused to their blueprint of manufacturing intelligent vehicles and finding multiple solutions to the world’s mobility challenges. But, Ford’s plan for Mobility goes beyond addressing just congestion on the roads. It is also about improving the accessibility of remote locations to cater to basic human needs. Ford along with its partners; has been working on healthcare service delivery in remote and rural areas of India through Project SUMURR.

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Jeeven is based in Navi-Mumbai and can be reached at jeevcb@yahoo.com