Ford drops reputation-scorching Microsoft Sync, enables support for Apple’s sought-after CarPlay

“Ford has abandoned its troubled Microsoft Sync automotive infotainment system for a QNX-based platform that can support Apple’s CarPlay with Hands Free Siri,” Daniel Eran Dilger reports for AppleInsider. “Ford—the second largest car maker by unit market share according to Edmunds.com—first expressed an interest in supporting Apple’s CarPlay (then known as iOS in the Car) in the summer of 2013, just as Apple introduced the initiative.”

“Ford has since struggled to keep its Windows Embedded Automotive carputer platform relevant in the face of poor reviews. Engadget reported this week that, in response to customer complaints, Ford moved away from Microsoft’s carputer platform in order to deliver a system that was ‘more responsive and less clumsy to use,'” Dilger reports. “The embedded realtime OS [QNX] has established a particularly entrenched niche in automotive on-board computer systems since the early 2000s, with clients including General Motors, BMW, Audi-Volkswagen and now Ford.”

Dilger reports, “By creating a system where the user’s iPhone is the brains, face and development platform of the car-centric apps they use, Apple has effectively rendered automotive systems using QNX, Linux and Windows Embedded Automotive as low value commodity devices for displaying its own iOS interface.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Told ya so, long ago:

Ford+Microsoft. Mediocrity is Job One.MacDailyNews, “When crap collides: Ford and Microsoft team up for in-vehicle operating system,” December 29, 2006

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dominick P.” for the heads up.]

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No, Apple’s CarPlay does not ‘run BlackBerry’s QNX’ – March 5, 2014
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Apple’s ‘CarPlay’ set to take automotive industry by storm – March 4, 2014
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Apple rolls out CarPlay giving drivers a smarter, safer and more fun way to use iPhone in the car – March 3, 2014
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64 Comments

    1. You can wait about 3 years when Ford actually has it in most models. Very few 2015 cars by any car maker have Apple inside. Pioneer aftermarket will be only solution for most cars.

      1. Yes, this is nuts. I wanted to buy a top end Lincoln Navigator with Apple’s CarPlay. I am now holding off by leasing one and will purchase another in 3 years when either CarPlay is in the SUV or I will rip out the Window’s crap and put an aftermarket unit in that supports Apple CarPlay.

        I am flushing a few thousand because Ford can’t offer what people really want. At least for now. You would think if someone wants to add another $1,200 to an over $60,000 car they would say “Thank you”! Not “No”. Idiots!

        Have a great Christmas!

        1. It’s not as simple as swapping out the radio. QNX runs everything in the car, from the infotainment to the spark plug timing to the airbags to the HVAC system and everything in between. It’s part of the design of the car, so Ford (and other auto makers) have to wait until they are re-designing the car anyway to make such a change, or the costs are huge.

          1. Ok, so the 2015 Lincoln Navigator is already the NEWLY upgraded top of the line SUV you are talking about. Redesigned motor, body, interior, … So, they never finished on the electronics upgrade? Why? That is the beauty of and iOS driven system. It is easy to up date. That Microsoft crap in the radio is not. Do you really think Ford and Apple could not find the money, people and time to have fixed this? You do know that there are aftermarket CarPlay systems that can be put in there.

            As an electrical engineer, I would connect the wiring and just leave the circuits in the default open or closed position. And when you get the software ready to start manipulating the systems, you up date the apps and related software.

    2. Install a new Alpine or Pioneer compatible CarPly unit and wallah! you have CarPlay. That’s what I did instantly after driving off the dealer’s lot with a 2015 car and it’s great.

      Everyone I knew with the craptastic Sync junk in their car had the car equivalent of the “Blue Screen Of Death” where with an “update” it would stop working well. Microsoft is a company dedicated to the Clodhopper style of software & hardware design and implementation. Does a company get any more incompetent, clumsy and undeserving of any consumer trust? They are now permanent residents of Irrelevantville.

      1. Er yes…Apple…they certainly don’t do updates well either. Microsoft are not irrelevant as you think…watch out for Apple reality distortion field. Apple are becoming worse than Microsoft with their arrogance and bullying for all to see.

        1. All Microsoft has is their usual cash cows Office and Windows and even those are no long term sure things. People are finding alternate solutions to Office and PC sales have been drifting downward. Oh sure they’ll be around awhile longer though. But they consistently have not diversified or been successful in much anything else being too little too late. (I wouldn’t call the XBox a major success either.)

          One iOS 8 update misfire corrected in a few days is hardly indicative of a trend. Maps was more of a debacle but only in terms of failing to call it a Beta.

          People who arbitrarily & speciously call Apple “arrogant and bullying” on little to no evidence usually have an agenda. I have had nothing but great Apple experiences and lousy Microsoft ones. NEXT!

          1. Doesn’t surprise me in the least with your reply. You have confirmed your ignorance as to the behaviour of Apple towards the carriers, customer base and the media. Apple have their cash cows too.Do I want to be locked in to wall gardened nazi system….er no thanks.

            1. Oh yeah I’m all about ignorance. Love how the dopes out there try to elevate themselves above the rest with their “special. knowledge” but the fact is it’s doing you little good outside your usual mental ward out in the boondocks. Doofuses like you are clueless and always will be.

              Happy Holidaze!

            2. Ha ha…you make me laugh…you have a good holiday as well. It is not special knowledge I have. The Apple Fanboy crowd hate being wrong and you sir fit the mold perfectly:)

            3. Said the disingenuous fool geektard.

              Hard to believe isn’t it others also form their opinions based on facts actually outside MDN? This is just a talking ground. You’re someone with Apple Hate in their blood and go to extremes of opinion in your quest for doofusosity.

              What are you doing here anyway since you have precious little objectivity going on upstairs? People on this site call Apple out when it’s appropriate, not in the specious generic manner you do. That’s the sign of true hating dork.

            4. You just know when the core of their argument is equating Apple to the Nazis they have lost all semblance of a grasp on reality. As for Microsoft they spent 25 years constructing a walled garden (after all you only need windows if you have walls) hoping that they could fool enough deluded peope into not recognising its existence not to mention their devious tactics in so doing. In your case they succeeded. Didn’t do so well with the EC amongst others mind.

            5. I have news for you, Chuck. As much as you appear to detest Apple’s “walled garden nazi system,” we detest the idea of you being in it.

              If you think that coming onto this forum and calling people ignorant and talking about reality distortion fields is going to get you anywhere, then you are even stupider than you sound.

      2. They still seem to think they can impose their inward looking monolithic systems on the market when they havnt been able to do that for years. But then I guess when sync was proposed and originally implemented they still could but simply couldn’t read the future and couldn’t change direction subsequently in their style of implementation.

            1. viola – definition of viola by The Free Dictionary
              vi·o·la 1 (v-l) n. 1. A stringed instrument of the violin family, slightly larger than a violin, tuned a fifth lower, and having a deeper, more sonorous tone.

              I think either wallah or vallah work.

      1. Sounds like a personal problem, Darwin. A couple years ago, I rented a Ford (Taurus) for the first time in many years. I was quite surprised at the quality of the car. Since then, I’ve rented one of the other Fords and was also impressed. Fuel economy was much better than my current smaller import. About the only thing I didn’t like was their miserable computer system — which they’re now fixing. I’ve also crawled through the new full size Ford Transit (NOT the Transit Connect) and have been considering one for hauling people around. The company seems to be doing well and staying technologically ahead. I would have no qualms about getting a Ford next year. As cheap as their stock is now, I’d recommend adding some to your AAPL. I’d expect the stock price to go up once sales figures for the newly released F150 are in after the next quarter. I don’t know what cars do not use “cheap” plastic. Metal dashboards went out over 50 years ago. I don’t work for them at all but their new stuff coming out has me looking at American built cars (Ford) for the first time in decades. They seem to have a pretty good CEO, too.

        1. Let me correct that last post. When I said they seem to be staying “technologically ahead,” I did NOT mean with their miserable MS SYNC system inside! Terrible system. I’d go so far as suggest that the difficulty using it while driving can even make it a MS-inspired safety hazard. The previous CEO was personal friends with MS. The current one does not appear to have that same flaw, at least as far as I know. I do think that the automotive technology in Fords today are, in some areas, ahead of the competition. That also seems to be the take of some car pro pubs. So, that’s my view.

        2. There are grades of plastic and the stuff Ford and GM are using in the US is hard and looks exceedingly cheap. Most European cars use a soft touch material that does not look like recast tupperware.

          The current Taurus chassis is adapted from the Volvo S80 series from when Ford owned Volvo. Now that they do not- can they design a chassis as safe and generally solid?

          As to the rest of the Taurus, my sister has a fully loaded version and it has been a shop queen. Nothing that will leave you by the roadside, just lots of little crap that shows quality at Ford is a slogan.

  1. I’ve driven a FORD for several weeks with that system. I can’t believe they installed that POS. It only made the Ford reputation worse. After awhile it made sense that these two partnered together. lol

  2. Dropping Microsoft is a step in the right direction, but QNX might not be any better.

    This is not complicated: ALL car navigation interfaces SUCK. EVERY ONE. The solution, when you plug a 4″ or 4.7″ or bigger iPhone, or even Android, turn the display to landscape and make the buttons bigger. Let the user use the apps they are familiar with. Car play is close to this, but it is a gigantic almost.

    It is SENSELESS to put “APPS” in a car navigation system. Why? You need a data connection. Once you need a cell phone data connection, you might as well use the processing power of the cellphone and the familiar apps a user uses in the first place. The one exception to this is MAPS and navigation: the physical world doesn’t change much and data can be updated every year or so. This means that WITHOUT a data connection navigation is VERY effective.

    The Toyota App “Entune” is SO BAD it is DANGEROUS to use. And it violates the terms of my AT&T cellular data contract. Last thing about it? For example the Entune “I heart radio” app is a SUBSET of the “I heart radio” app on the iPhone. Another words some (maybe even most) stations that are available on the iPhone are NOT available in Entune EVEN WHEN Entune is using the iPhone cellular data. Foolishly senseless.

    1. Fully embedded navigation systems are stupid. I drive an otherwise nice Acura with the display system that was quite fancy in 2003. It looks pretty lame right now. They put a rapidly aging piece of technology permanently in the user interface for the vehicle.

      The better move would be to install a holder for an iPad or iPhone that is completely independent of the car except for speaker and power interfaces and maybe a microphone. In that way, the Nav system is always up to date. Admittedly neither the iPhone nor the iPad existed in 2003, but that just proves my point. Car tech is evolving very slowly at this time. The rest of the world, a bit faster.

      1. I agree completely. For a long time, I’ve been advocating something like a standard size rack in automotive dashboards to accommodate stereo/radio/navigation/etc equipment.

    2. Chrysler’s UConnect system works very well and is quite intuitive.

      I actually looked at Lincolns in 2011 and decided against them just because of the poor Microsoft Sync infotainment system.

  3. The day Alan Mulally, Ford’s much-ballyhooed former CEO, made public the move to “partner” with Ballmer T. Clown, I realized his judgment was third-rate and so avoided his shit boxes.

    One bright spot: The Ford-Microsoft mire will provide $100 used-car, back-row-comedy specials for years.

    At least he left Boeing before ensuring that the blue screen of death would be all too literal.

    1. Ford is making some great cars these days. Perhaps they’ve gotten to the point where they know that SYNC was the one glaring item that sucked and they couldn’t redesign, and weren’t getting solutions from Microsoft.

      1. Ford has been running a very aggressive ad campaign over the last couple of years.

        I rent a lot of cars, and for a time last year I rented several different Ford models.

        Unfortunately I have not yet found Ford’s “great cars” to which you’re referring.

        Everything from ugly and unintuitive control and gauge lay-outs, to malfunctioning electronics beyond SYNC, to blind spots in which I could hide a Boeing 747, Ford’s commitment to design seems to end at Homer Simpson’s desk.

    2. Boeing went all Windows for their desktops, even when they knew Apple machines were more reliable and productive. Too many Boeing execs going to the same country clubs as Microsoft execs. It shouldn’t have been a surprise Mulally would fall for the same line again.

      1. I learned a little about Alan Mulally when he was a well-regarded executive at Boeing. I was genuinely excited when he was selected to be Ford CEO, figuring that since jet manufacturing is so complex and high tech., he would do an excellent job leading car manufacturing. I figured he would be open to working with Apple technology since their ipod/iphone technology was so well-regarded, and surely he was a good judge of technology. I was quite disappointed and concerned when they announced the Sync partnership with Microsoft. I thought surely he must know the issues with Wndows bugs and reliability problems and mediocre interfaces, etc.? Then again, maybe Sync would not have those problems. Well, they did, and my enthusiasm for Mulally waned, and I kind of lost interest in Ford as a vehicle choice. It it too bad that Sync seemed to obscure a lot of his other accomplishments and significant progress Ford made during and after the recession. He does deserve a great deal of credit for leading the only American car company through the Great Recession without a government bail-out. Maybe what you suggest is true, that the execs got to know each other in their Seattle days during the 1990’s, and that familiarity led to their Sync deal.

        1. Mulally isn’t a bad guy, it’s just that the exec level at Boeing doesn’t touch keyboards, or didn’t back in my days there. So he never had a sense of the daily suffering that Windows brought to the company and the company has very strong protection against crashes and other Windows afflictions. Nightly automatic backup and strong controls on unauthorized applications helped a lot.

    3. For me is was the technology in a new car and not the car itself that made the difference in buying or ignoring.

      Automakers have to realize that with today’s consumer it’s a critical difference between yesterday and today. They also can’t laggardly include new technology at a leisurely lah-dee-dah pace as in previous years or risk losing sales. Get with the program! And avoid partnering with Microsoft at all costs!!

  4. It’ll be interesting to see how the different car brands will differentiate themselves with what the user gets as an interface. I would think that the luxury brands wouldn’t want the same UI look as the cheap cars. So who writes the specs for the CarPlay app layer for each model? Will we go to the App Store and get the app for our car, kinda like buying aftermarket wheels. “Strange days indeed.”… John Lennon.

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