Ford has dropped Microsoft for BlackBerry in its new Sync system, and is promising more smartphone-like performance.
As has been previously rumored, BlackBerry's QNX will be used in Sync 3 instead of Microsoft's MyFord Touch system. This is a big change considering Microsoft's technology has been used for more than seven years.
"Ford is delivering an easier way for customers to stay connected," said Raj Nair, Ford's chief technical officer and group vice president of Global Product Development. "Sync 3 is another step forward in delivering connectivity features customers most want, and they tell us this kind of technology is an important part of their decision to buy our vehicles."
Sync 3 will feature a much brighter screen with better graphics, including functions that most users are accustomed to with tablets, such as pinch-to-zoom. It will also feature larger buttons on-screen.
The user interface is new, now showing three choices on the home screen; navigation, audio and phone. A search box is also included for looking for locations of contacts.
The system was also developed to make use of voice control, allowing users to focus more on driving than having to look at the in-car display. Users also will no longer need to say the specific address of a location to be navigated there -- they can simply say "Starbucks" to be taken to the nearest location.
The company has also improved the AppLink system, allowing users to select compatible apps that are found on iOS or Android devices. Some apps, such as Spotify or Pandora, will function quite differently on the in-car interface compared with how they operate on a phone or tablet, including more extensive voice-control features and larger, easier-to-use buttons to minimize any driving distractions.
"Overall, AppLink is faster, more responsive and easier to find your apps," said Julius Marchwicki, Ford global product manager of AppLink, in a statement. "The overall design of Sync 3 allows for better integration with smartphones, resulting in a more user-friendly experience."
In creating Sync 3, Ford took a survey from users about what the most urgently needed improvement was, with many suggesting that the processor used in the infotainment system was too slow. Ford has upped the processing power behind the device, now offering a faster OMAP 5 1.7-GHz processor. The company reportedly wanted the system to be able to perform as well as a tablet or smartphone.
The Sync 3 in-car system will begin rolling out on 2016 Ford and Lincoln models next year.