Car News

Ford to Debut New Infotainment System, Over-the-Air Updates in 2020

Ford says it will introduce the next generation of its Sync infotainment system next year, along with over-the-air software updates for most of its redesigned models.

The automaker says Sync 4 will have twice the computing power of the current Sync 3 system, and will support wireless use of the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration platforms. So far, a few BMW vehicles (and the Toyota Supra) are the only cars able to connect wirelessly to Apple CarPlay.

Sync 4's specifications also give away a clue to some future Ford Motor Company products: it will run on a variety of screen sizes, including a 15.5-inch display that has yet to reach the marketplace. Sync 4 will also run on the 8.0- to 12.0-inch screens available today in Ford products.

Depending on the screen size, Ford says Sync 4 provides new functionality, like split-screen operation, and, with the forthcoming 15.5-inch screen, the system will use digital cards to keep recently or frequently used features visible at the bottom of the screen for easy access.

Sync 4 will largely be cloud-based, which Ford says allows for better voice recognition performance. And to quell anxiety about traveling through areas with poor connectivity, Ford seems confident the systems on-board processors are robust enough to "minimize performance issues."

Ford's other high-tech announcement is its adoption of over-the-air (OTA) software updates, starting with new and redesigned models introduced in 2020. Eventually, OTA capability will be built into most of the company's models in a bid to reduce trips to the dealership for minor fixes to the cars' electronic systems.

The first OTA updates will be delivered about six months after the first cars so-equipped reach the marketplace. Owners will be able to set a regular time to download and install updates -- such as overnight -- to minimize the potential inconvenience. Ford says that even after an update is downloaded, the car will continue to use the existing software until the car's owner chooses to activate the new programming.