When Ford announced SYNC 3 last week for 2016 model-year vehicles, the automaker claimed the third-generation system will be faster, more intuitive, and respond to voice commands so much better. What FoMoCo didn’t tell you is that Microsoft is no longer involved with the system’s architecture, as was somewhat expected. Rather, the BlackBerry-owned QNX system serves as the underlying technology.
“Ford wanted an operating system from a company that’s more committed to automotive interfaces,” said senior analyst for automotive technology at IHS Automotive, Mark Boyadjis. “Microsoft has made it very clear that they’re a devices and services company.”
QNX, which was acquired by BlackBerry in 2010, also provides the in-vehicle operating systems used by cross-town rivals General Motors as well as BMW and Audi.
Microsoft’s involvement with Ford’s second-generation SYNC “integrated in-vehicle communications and entertainment system” was marketed as MyFord Touch for Ford and MyLincoln Touch for Lincoln, initially being released in 2011. Initially available on several Ford and Lincoln models, the system eventually met with plenty of negative feedback from users and reviewers alike, even arousing the consternation of Consumer Reports.
Ford tried to address complaints with MyFord Touch/MyLincoln Touch with several software updates, and even went so far as to replace the systems’ touch buttons with physical buttons and dials. Whether or not the updates and improvements went far enough is still up in the air.
“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,” said Ford chief technical officer Raj Nair.
SYNC 3 brings an all-new touchscreen, as well as an improved user interface and voice recognition, plus the ability to connect the vehicle to a Wi-Fi network and use Siri Eyes Free.