Ford’s in-car system finally works, thanks to Apple Siri’s arrival in software update

“Ford is going to software update to provide Apple’s Siri voice-command system on its iPhone as part of the Sync in-car connectivity system,” Chris Woodyard reports for USA Today. “About 5 million customers could potentially benefit.”

“The update is aimed at providing more convenience to Apple iPhone users. It is being released for vehicles dating back to the 2011 model year that have the version of Sync known as MyFord Touch,” Woodyard reports. “Drivers can ask Siri to make a call, locate a business, find directions, set a reminder, select and play music, send and receive an audible text or provide a weather update. It is a feature available as part of the latest system, known as Sync 3, which debuted on some 2016 model Ford and Lincoln vehicles.”

Ford “introduced the original Sync system in a 2008 Ford Focus. The next-generation, renamed MyFord Touch in recognition of the touchscreen that replaced traditional knobs, was introduced for the 2011 model year. But it had bugs and was not intuitive enough for many customers. Dissatisfaction led to reduced quality scores for Ford vehicles,” Woodyard reports. “Third-generation Sync 3 was designed to be easier to use with a simpler layout, larger fonts, and a touchscreen that moves with a swipe up, down or across, with pinch-to-zoom like modern tablets. To get that functionality, Ford dropped Microsoft for Canada’s QNX software from Blackberry. And it dropped the MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch names.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We predicted Ford’s long road of woe two years before they introduced their original Sync system:

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

SEE ALSO:
Ford drops reputation-scorching Microsoft Sync, enables support for Apple’s sought-after CarPlay
Friday, December 12, 2014

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21 Comments

  1. So Apple will implement Siri into a Blackberry OS? Anybody remember the last time Apple put their kit on partners’ gear?

    Oh yeah, you just keep on degrading that brand, Tim. God knows you need the money. Awesome.

  2. this is with sync3’s connectivity component. it is your iPhone working with that component, not as part of the info system. i have an focus RS ordered. will let you know how it works when i get it.

  3. CarPlay has always used Siri, so this must be something different.

    Or if not, then this implementation of CarPlay didn’t support some features. Sounds like what MDN calls fragmandroid. Relying on a partner hw/sw platform to run Apple’s kit will not run well. They haven’t allowed it for their desktop OS since it nearly put them out of business…

      1. Sync — a hw/sw system based on QNX, with Siri capabilities.

        Nowhere does it say Siri will only be able to control CarPlay. CarPlay is not mentioned in the article at all. And if it IS using CarPlay then that system is still being presented via QNX. It’s not the iOS-using-display-hardware model that MDN suggests.

    1. Ford doesn’t use CarPlay (yet). They have been using Microsoft’s Sync (aka MyFord Touch) for years. Microsoft’s Sync allows various mobile phones to connect via Bluetooth. Depending on the phone’s OS, they can do various things. Until now, you couldn’t use your iPhone’s Siri with Microsoft’s Sync. Apparently, the latest update of Sync allows iPhone users to use Siri through their car system, without directly having to talk to their phones.

      Apple never integrated ANYTHING with Ford, MS, Blackberry or anyone else. It was MS that has added the ability to communicate with Siri via their Sync technology.

      Hopefully, Ford’s contract with MS will expire and they’ll move to Apple CarPlay, and the system will finally become useful.

  4. I just bought a pair of fully loaded Kia Souls and the infotainment system is provided by Microsoft. The voice control system works at best 50% of the time and is infuriating. I hope that Kia does something like a firmware upgrade to let Siri take over the navigation system and the radio. These cars do sort of have Siri integration BUT it is completely useless and you must then pull out your iPhone and touch the display to see or hear a response. Completely hamstrung. I can believe that Ford will implement the same backwards, upside down kludge system as Microsoft gave Kia. Hopefully, this will start a revolt and people will refuse to buy Fords or any car without Car Play.

      1. I postponed my purchase as long as I could but there were no cars available by any manufacturers in Canada that have Car Play. I even almost considered buying a North American car if they had Car Play even though I can’t stand the companies.

      2. My travels require that I rent a lot of cars. Not long ago, I got handed the keys to a Kia Forte. I was impressed with its overall fit and finish, its appointments, and – relevant to this article – the dashboard tech. Specifically, I was amazed by how intuitive the system was to set up (who has time to read a manual at the rental car place) and how easy it was to sync my iPhone to the BT node. So, whatever Kia is doing, they should do more of it.

        1. Are you saying that Kia should continue to copy and steal other companies’ IP like Samsung does?

          This, in addition to a horribly unfair trade agreement that includes an almost impermeable blockade to American goods sold in South Korea, is how Kia, Hyundai, Samsung, LG, and their ilk have gotten so big in the last decade.

        2. In my experience, car makers have changed dramatically in the last several years. Mostly for the better, but a lot for the worse.

          Everyone has their tastes and needs, but in my experience the infotainment system is the least important thing about a car. It doesn’t matter what system out get, it’s obsolete before you get the damn thing home. At Apple’s rate of change, there’s no guarantee that it’l work 3 years from now.

          So if you already have an iPhone, then just install a good holder and move on. Why on earth people ignore what’s really important about a car and obsess about the overpriced electronic junk built into cars these days is beyond me. The world would be a far better place if everyone drove Mazda Miatas and stopped using those damn screens in their cars altogether.

          Interesting thought: why is it that nobody can buy a car these days without navi/audio/complicated expensive dashboard crap — but we are too lazy to use other electrical stuff in our cars like HEADLIGHTS when it is raining or TURN SIGNALS when we are changing lanes or turning? WHY ????????

  5. I have been very impressed with my new Ford Edge!

    I have been using Siri with Ford Sync since August. Sync works very well with my iPhone 6+.

    Since my purchase they have updated Ford Sync twice to correct minor glitches.

    So far this has been the most trouble free auto since my Toyota Solara.

  6. Updated my Fusion Energi yesterday. Can’t say enough bad things about MyFord Touch. However, now with Siri Eyes Free it is usable due to me no longer using it. Now I just need to find a way to mount my iPhone 6 Plus over the nav screen!

    This car with Car Play would be perfect.

  7. I have installed the update, and would like to clear-up some apparent misunderstandings, and answer a few questions from other posters:

    1) In my opinion, this is a huge gift from Ford to their customers with iPhones. Ford deserves kudos for this.

    2) I have Ford MyTouch in my 2014 Explorer. Before the update, with the USB cable connected to the iPhone, one can press the iPhone home button to access Siri to play songs from Apple Music and Apple Radio over the car’s sound system. Excellent as compared to other systems, but still not eyes-free.

    3) With the update, one no longer has to connect the USB cable. Siri is accessed by holding down the voice-assist button (on the steering wheel) for about two seconds (less time accesses the Ford assistant). Siri may be used to navigate, compose text messages, and find songs to play in Apple Music and Apple Radio. It is a true eyes-free Apple experience.

    4) The update was easy to install, following the instructions on Ford’s download site. You must log-in as a registered as a Ford owner (their privacy policy isn’t quite as perfect as Apple’s; but far better than most; they promise not to sell your personal information and one can opt out of ads).

    5) The update works with all versions of vehicles equipped with Touch systems since 2011 model year (MyTouch and Sync3).

    6) My software download was 2.02 Gb. The instructions on Ford’s website were clear and precise. Once the car system accepts the update, Ford says it takes about 30 minutes to install; I didn’t time it with a stopwatch, but it was pretty darn close to 30 minutes.

    7) My car is still under basic warranty, and my dealer offered to install the software update as part of that coverage. The reason I called the dealer is that I ran into some anxiety by not following Ford’s clear instructions. (How not to do do the install: when I downloaded the update to my USB, I expanded *all* the zip files in *all* the sub-folders; I didn’t believe Ford’s instruction to just unzip the download and select extract all, because after doing that I still saw unexpanded zip files in the subfolders, and mistakenly thought the vehicle’s touch system would need all files expanded. So, when I tried to install the USB in the vehicle, the system told me that my files were invalid or some such message.) In my anxious moment, I called the dealer service and asked if they had experience with the update, which is when they offered the free service. Sure enough, when I followed Ford’s instructions it worked perfectly, and cancelled the appointment. Actually an easy install, if I hadn’t gotten in Ford’s way.

    8) As backstory, I would like to explain why this update is so important to me and other Ford MyTouch owners; and frankly, why I think that Ford deserves kudos.

    I went to a great deal of research, and fuss test-driving vehicles, for at least a year before purchasing 2014 Ford Explorer. You must understand, I’ve had that all-things-Apple-love since living in Cupertino in the late-80s. So, the iPhone-to-vehicle user interface was a significant factor in my decision. Multiple times, I test-drove Toyota’s products, GM’s products, Ford’s products, and maybe a few others, and went through all the menus in all their touch interface systems. At the time, the “auto review experts” universally trashed the Ford MyTouch system. Also at the time, CarPlay was available only on Ferraris and the like, or either unavailable or ridiculously over-priced as an add-on (I forget which).

    By the time of purchase (Feb-2014), I concluded that the Ford MyTouch had the best combination of iPhone-friendly and user-friendly interface in the non-premium luxury vehicle category, and that the bad reviews must have been based on earlier versions. The only thing that put me off was the idea of having the Microsoft Sync logo on the console (I joked with my wife that I would have to figure out how to remove or black-it-out; at least, she thought I was joking). Reality, of course, is that like all things non-Apple, my brain quickly came to ignore their silly logo (gotta wonder how much that branding effort ultimately cost MS, ha-ha).

    In April, my wife bought a new 2015 Toyota PriusV; in my observation, the pre-updated version of Ford MyTouch still beats that system with regard to both my criteria: iPhone-friendly and user-friendly interface.

    With this update, Ford MyTouch owners will be in as near blissful a state as possible, until CarPlay is universally implemented. Siri eyes-free and Apple Radio and Apple Music with no cables; nirvana. Thank you, Ford, for the Christmas gift!

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