Since Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were announced in 2014, Ford has been one of the major holdouts when it comes to choosing a side. The Blue Oval has stuck with its device-agnostic Sync AppLink, without discussing plans to integrate the Apple- and Android-specific systems into its vehicles.
But at CES, Ford said it will add both CarPlay and Android Auto to new models later this year, along with other upgrades to its Sync 3 infotainment system. Ford buyers with compatible Apple or Android smartphones will now get a layer of features specific to their phones, something that’s becoming mandatory among tech-savvy carmakers.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available on all 2017 Ford models equipped with the Sync 3 system, which rolled out last year as a replacement for the maligned Sync with MyFord Touch. Several 2016 models also have the system, and owners will be offered an upgrade adding CarPlay and Android Auto at some point this year.
In addition to the Apple and Android systems, Ford plans to roll out a few upgrades to Sync 3. The carmaker will launch the 4G LTE-based Sync Connect feature first announced at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show. This allows owners to remotely start, unlock doors, check the fuel level, or locate a parked car with their smartphones. Ford will also augment its AppLink app suite with features that use a vehicle’s GPS location.
An app from AAA uses the car’s location data to check gas prices, find gas stations, and plan routes. Concur allows drivers to log business trips by recording mileage covered when prompted, while Eventseeker and Cityseeker use the vehicle’s location to find activities like concerts, nightlife, and attractions nearby. A new “Send Location” feature also allows an app to integrate directly with a car’s navigation system.
Ford claims to have put around 15 million Sync-equipped vehicles on the road since the first version of the system launched in 2007. By 2020, it expects that number to grow to more than 20 million.