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Ford hopes to put MyFord Touch criticism behind it with new Sync 3 system

Update: One more important detail is Ford’s switch from Microsoft to BlackBerry, now noted below.

Ford’s Sync with MyFord Touch was one of the first branded automotive infotainment, but that doesn’t mean it’s been well received.

While Ford offers the system on nearly every vehicle it makes, it hasn’t been able to quell complaints about complicated and sometimes-clunky interfaces.

So for its new system, Ford decided to make some big changes, including dropping the MyFord Touch name. Welcome to Sync 3.

The new system ditches the old Microsoft framework for BlackBerry’s QNX operating system, so it really is new both inside and out.

Ford Sync 3

To make things easier for people – who have to operate the system and a motor vehicle at the same time, remember – Ford added smartphone-like pinch-and-zoom gesture controls to the touchscreen. It also claims to have improved the screen’s responsiveness, which was a common criticism of previous systems.

Menu buttons are now large tiles with simple graphics, primarily using black type on a white background for easier reading. The home screen is broken up into three zones: Audio, Navigation, and Phone.

Drivers can now scroll through their contact lists with one finger, and there’s a “one-box” search feature for navigation that’s supposed to mirror Internet search-engine boxes.

Voice recognition is naturally part of the package as well, and Ford says the new version doesn’t require as many rigid commands.

To play music, a person just has to say “play” and the artist, album, or song title. The search function also  recognizes some colloquial place names, so suers don’t have to remember full names. Ford will also add Siri Eyes Free for iPhone users.

Speaking of smartphones, the Sync AppLink feature returns as part of the new system. Like many system now peddled by carmakers, it uses Sync-specific versions of certain apps for hands-free control of phone functions.

Related: 2016 Ford Explorer gets a macho makeover

Available apps include Pandora, Stitcher, Spotify, and iHeartRadio. Ford says the Sync 3 version is faster than before, and can more easily, err, sync with a phone’s apps.

One last notable feature is the addition of over-the-air software updates, for an additional bit of smartphone-like convenience.

Sync 3 will appear on new Ford vehicles next year.