Ford Drops Microsoft for Blackberry Sync 3 Infotainment System

Dec 13, 2014 07:26 AM EST | Matt Mercuro

Ford has dropped its Microsoft Sync infotainment system for a QNX-based platform that is capable of supported Apple's CarPlay with Hands Free Siri.

Instead, Ford will now use BlackBerry's QNX OS for the new Sync 3 infotainment system, according to CNN. Ford Sync lets users navigate, make phone calls, control the car's climate through voice or touch commands and listen to the radio.

Improvements to Sync 3 includes the ability to expand or shrink the display with pinch-to-zoom gestures. Occupants will also be able to swipe the screen's display as they do for a smartphone.

Sync 3 will have a better understanding of voice commands. Drivers can give a street address as "eleven-twenty-five" rather than "one-one-two-five," for example.

The infotainment system will also integrate better with Apple's iPhone devices, allowing occupants to use Siri hands-free. The previous Microsoft-based Sync wasn't always cooperative with Apple products.

Sync 3 will become available in 2015 on Model Year 2016 vehicles, though Ford spokesman Alan Hall hasn't said what percentage of vehicles will still have the old touch screens and which will have the new ones.

Ford, the second largest automaker by unit market share, first expressed interest in supporting Apple's CarPlay (then called iOS in the Car) back in 2013, just as Apple introduced the service.

Current Sync 3 owners with MyFord Touch system will not be able to upgrade to Sync 3 since the new touchscreens will include new hardware, according to the automaker.

The Ford-Microsoft relationship dates back to meetings with Bill Ford and Bill Gates. The Microsoft-based system suffered from bugs over the years however, which affected quality scores for Lincoln and Ford models.

Sync was first introduced back in 2007, before Apple introduced the first iPhone. Around 55 percent of Ford drivers have the touchscreens, while 40 percent still have the more basic system. 

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