Ford Motor Co., www.ford.com, has been a pioneer in the connected-car space since it released its first generation of in-vehicle connectivity system—SYNC—in 2007. It continued to push forward with SYNC with MyFord Touch, a somewhat controversial system that, while forward thinking, garnered mixed reviews from some users and critics in terms of usability and safety. Now, the automaker has announced the next generation of its system, SYNC 3, which will bring a new level of intuitive usability to Ford’s 2016 lineup of connected vehicles in all price ranges.

Ford says SYNC 3, the latest iteration of its communications and entertainment system, features faster performance, improved voice recognition, and a new graphical interface thanks in part to its new reported partnership with QNX, www.qnx.com, which replaces Microsoft, www.microsoft.com, as the software provider powering SYNC.

The core of the SYNC system includes the ability to interact with the user’s smartphone in a hands-free way. It allows drivers to place calls, send texts, and control music using voice commands. Also integral to the system is a touchscreen with a bright background, high-contrast fonts, and large tile-like icons. SYNC 3 minimizes the number of choices to three zones on the home screen: navigation, audio, and phone. Ford hopes the new system will be its easiest and safest to use yet.

Other enhanced features include improved AppLink integration, which allows drivers to control certain smartphone apps from the interface and removes the need to look at a phone at all while driving, and the ability to update SYNC’s software via Wi-Fi, among others. Ford’s 911 Assist subscription-free emergency service will also be improved in SYNC 3. 911 Assist will now send additional information about an accident to emergency responders, such as the type of crash (front, side, rear, or rollover), whether airbags were deployed, and the number of seatbelts in use at the time of the accident.

Ford says it took a “customer-centric approach” while developing SYNC 3, hoping the new system will further cement its role as a leader and innovator in providing in-vehicle connectivity to its customers.

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