Ford's SYNC connectivity and voice recognition software is well regarded, but the latest version narrows the gap between cars and smartphones thanks to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay technology.
SYNC 3 is not new, but the new smartphone connectivity feature is. It brings Ford up to speed with the likes of many manufacturers that have already taken the plunge and partnered with both Apple and Android. The other addition is that all new Fords will also come fitted with 4G LTE connectivity. The news emanates from the 2016 CES exhibition in Las Vegas. The Consumer Experience Show is not really a car show, but it's being increasingly taken over by automotive manufacturers seeking to highlight advances in technology.
The new software will be offered in the United States on all 2017-model year Ford products equipped with SYNC 3, while existing customers with SYNC 3-equipped vehicles will be requested to pop past their dealer for an upgrade.
Android Auto will only work if devices are running at least the 5.0 Lollipop operating system and most of the Google Services will be supported. Features such as Google's Voice Search, Google Maps and music can be displayed on the screen and there's no reason why you'd need to touch your mobile device while driving. The 4G LTE connectivity also makes it possible to remotely start your car, unlock the doors, check fuel levels and find your parked vehicle by using the smartphone. Apps such as CitySeeker, which finds restaurants and nightspots, will also be included.
For those who use Apple's iOS, please note that only the iPhone 5 and later models are compatible. Simply plug your phone in via USB and you get the CarPlay menu on your dashboard. Features include Siri voice control, hands-free calling, streaming music, receiving directions (optimised for traffic conditions) and sending/receiving text messages.
South African Availability
We made contact with Ford South Africa and at the time of writing, availability of SYNC 3 was unconfirmed. However given Ford's plans for 2016 we'd be very surprised to not see SYNC 3 fitted to the Ford Focus RS, as well as later versions of the Ford Everest.