Bells & Whistles – Ford’s in-car SYNC 3 infotainment system
If you combine the words information and entertainment you get ‘infotainment’ – and this is exactly what you’ll get in the 2020 Ford Explorer. The Ford Motor Company has come up with the perfect combination of a car stereo with an information and navigation system – SYNC 3.
Anticipating your needs
Smartphones and tablets are becoming more intuitive and easier to use with each new generation. Up until now, infotainment systems have often seemed like an after-thought, and operating them seemed counter-intuitive.
Not only do these systems need to be secure, functional and seamless to use, but they also need to keep you, and your family, safe while driving. “The SYNC 3 has been based on customer feedback – by the same people who are driving and interacting with their Ford vehicles every day,” says Chuck Gray, director of electrical and electronic systems engineering at Ford.
This is the first version to be fully designed in-house at Ford, and was recently unveiled at the company’s high-tech Connectivity and Innovation Centre (CIC) in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata.
More than good looks
The SYNC 3 might seem familiar to use, because it’s based on Blackberry’s QNX operating system. It’s no longer a scavenger hunt to find functions, and you’ll immediately feel connected.
It has a thoughtful, common sense layout. You can identify things clearly and navigate efficiently. You can also adjust the screen’s brightness and font size to help avoid squinting, so that you never have to take your eyes off the road for too long.
The number of steps that are required to complete a task have been minimized on the SYNC 3. Many functions can also be accessed via voice control. Some controls have been moved from the console cluster to SYNC 3. Everything is easier to find, and if you’re not sure how something works, there’s an animated visual indication or a video to explain it to you – no manual required.
All your radio audio presets (AM/FM/XM) appear on the main screen, regardless of the media stream. You can switch from an AM news channel, to a rock station on the FM dial, and then to the Beatles channel on SiriusXM.
SiriusXM radio enthusiasts will appreciate the smart favourites and tune start features. The former buffers the last 30 minutes from your XM favourites as soon as you turn on the engine, and the latter ensures that the song begins on the first note when you switch to your favourites.
A first on the 2020 Ford Explorer’s platinum trim package, is the 10.1-inch, high-definition, portrait display. Other models have an eight-inch-wide screen. It’s positioned vertically on the dashboard, at a height and an angle, that makes it easy to see.
With the customer’s consent, the SYNC 3 can capture analytics in terms of how its being used. Real-live testing and improvements are ongoing. At Ford’s Accelerated Life Test Lab, the software stability team simulates the software running in a vehicle in order to detect any pain-points.
When hitting the road, it’s comforting to know that the practical application of ‘infotainment’ is as reliable as the technology that we’ve come to expect in our homes.
|Greg Gazin is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger, podcaster (host and producer), and contributes to canoe.com, Troy Media and Active Life magazine.|