(Pocket-lint) – Ford has showcased the new version of Ford Sync – version 4 – that’s going to make its debut in the new Mustang Mach-E, the company’s forthcoming electric car. It draws in customisation, personalisation and connectivity that’s hitherto been unavailable and ushers in some compelling features.
The Mach-E will be a great showcase for the next-gen Sync software, thanks to the huge 15.5-inch display in the centre of the car, allowing touch control – with familiar pinch and swipe gestures – while there’s also a physical dial at the bottom. That’s going to be great for volume control and much more tactile than tapping on-screen buttons – and great for the passenger too.
Customisation is key
One of the key features of the new software will be the customisation it offers through cards, allowing you to access all the features you want and not get constrained by the user interface.
Those cards will allow apps to run without dominating the whole display, for example, accessing information or media controls without having to switch the whole screen to that task. That means you can keep navigation on the display while accessing something else.
One area that’s novel – and we think could set a trend for other cars – is the ability to have Android Auto or Apple CarPlay running and visible alongside other cards. Again, that means you could have Android Auto open to access a media app, while using the car’s own navigation, at the same time, with both on display.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be standard and wireless, but thanks to Sync AppLink there will be support for other apps. That will include Waze, meaning you can natively navigate the Waze way.
Personalisation runs deeper, however, because Ford will also be using machine learning to tailor the experience to the driver. Sync will be able to recognise patterns in your car use and make changes to support those things. If you always call home on your way back from work, then Sync can suggest this to you at the right time. If you always go to football practice on Thursday, the satnav can be ready to navigate you there on Thursdays.
The idea is to remove some of the routine tasks, so you can relax and enjoy the drive.
Deep smartphone control
Thanks to the FordPass app on your smartphone, there will be a lot of control outside the car. One new aspect to this is going to be remote setup. This will enable you to configure your car’s settings on your phone and have those pushed to the car.
That can include things like your important destinations – work, home, the gym, etc – as well as allowing that personalised profile to be applied whenever you use the car. If there’s another driver in the family, that person can have a different setup, so everyone gets what they want.
Ford says that on the Mach-E, this will extend to 80 different settings, including things like the drive mode that you prefer to use.
There will also be support for using your phone as a key, so as you approach the car with your phone, the car can recognise you and ensure the setup is to your preference.
There will also be charging controls and pre-conditioning options via the app – common on many modern electric cars – while Ford Sync will also give you real-time information on charging options and car parking locations.
Much of the technology will rely on connectivity and Ford has said that in Europe, new Ford cars will come with a modem as standard to provide that connection, while updates can be downloaded in the background and installed as soon as you are parked back at home. Ford has said that update will bring improvements to Sync and other computer modules on cars.
The new version of Ford Sync will first appear in the Mach-E, but Ford has said that it will be on select vehicles in Europe in the future.
Writing by Chris Hall.