What is Ford Sync 4?

Beverly Braga | Apr 30, 2020

Ford Sync 4 is the next iteration of the automaker’s infotainment technology, and it will offer twice the computing power of the previous generation infotainment system, over-the-air (OTA) update capability, and touchscreen displays up to 15.5 inches in size. Thanks to the faster processing times, accessing navigation, music, and connected apps will be easier and more intuitive than ever before. Additionally, the OTA update technology ensures that the newest Sync system will always boast the latest in user interface (UI) capabilities.

Ford Sync 4 infotainment technology

A History of Ford Sync

Since its introduction in 2007, Ford Sync has experienced not only technological advances but slight name changes as well. In a development partnership with Microsoft, Sync was a basic in-vehicle communications system. Utilizing Bluetooth, owners could make hands-free phone calls as well as use voice commands to operate the radio and media player controls. Depending on equipment, Sync delivered information in a simple two-line format or via a 4.2-inch color display.

The second-generation version of Sync, which debuted on 2011 models, saw the addition of navigation functionality, text message receipt and delivery, and Wi-Fi connectivity. The new system was also given an updated moniker: Sync with MyFord Touch. Unfortunately, even though MyFord Touch was accessible via a larger 6.5- or 8-inch touchscreen, the system’s UI was as clumsy as its name.

Owner dissatisfaction with MyFord Touch was clear in J.D. Power data. After ranking 5th overall in the 2010 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (IQS) with a problem per 100 vehicles (PP100) score of 93, Ford plummeted to 23rd (of 32 brands) the following year. The 2011 results listed Ford with a PP100 score of 116; the industry average was 107.

By the time Ford Sync 3 rolled in, many of the bugs that plagued the previous system had been resolved. Just the same, Ford dropped the “MyFord Touch” name and discontinued updates to MyFord Touch by the end of 2015. The new Sync 3 infotainment system also moved off the Microsoft operating system to a Blackberry-powered QNX platform.

Sync 3 made significant strides in the user experience by adding a smartphone-style touchscreen interface, simplifying voice recognition commands, and integrating AppLink, a program that allows users hands-free access to a myriad of phone-installed apps. Other new features included OTA updates via Wi-Fi and an enhanced version of 911 Assist, Ford’s subscription-free collision notification emergency service.

What’s Included with Ford Sync 4?

Ford Sync 4 builds on the infotainment system’s already robust offerings. The next-generation system will make its debut in the all-new 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E all-electric SUV, which is slated to arrive later this year.

So, what’s new with Ford Sync 4? From machine learning capability to cloud connectivity, Ford Sync 4 redefines in-vehicle communications and entertainment. Data processing power aside, the system is literally bigger, developed to operate on various high-definition touchscreen displays ranging from 8 to 15.5 inches. But regardless of screen size, the Ford Sync 4 system is easily customizable to an individual’s preference without sacrificing multi-tasking functionalities or the overall user experience.

With an available all-new 12-inch display, users can split the screen into large and small windows, tailoring the system to quickly access information they want more readily available. And as part of the Information on Demand feature, owners can prominently highlight up to nine selected apps and functions.

When equipped with the 15.5-inch screen (a Ford-first to debut in the Mustang Mach-E), Sync 4 deletes traditional dashboard buttons and knobs, replacing them with the premium, tablet-sized display. Featuring a large home-button commander dial at the bottom, the sleek touchscreen also replaces complicated menus and tabs with a simpler, more intuitive UI—all customizable. Operation is as familiar as the tap, swipe, pinch controls of any modern smartphone or tablet computer. But this means no haptic feedback either.

New Adaptive Dash Cards allow for quick access to recently used or popular functions by displaying them prominently beneath the main portion of the screen. The cards display function-specific information, and they’re interactive as well. For example, if a card displays music, you can pause or skip a song via the card rather than opening up the music player program. With the cards, you can just as effortlessly make calls, adjust the cabin temperature, receive news alerts, and more.

Because all new Ford vehicles are already available with a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, by default, cloud connectivity is standard with Sync 4. This cloud-based connection provides vehicle owners with up-to-date navigation information, including traffic, construction, weather, and even parking prices, as well as comprehensive internet search results.

Ford Sync 4 also has wireless compatibility with smart devices via Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Sync AppLink-supported apps like Waze and Ford+Alexa. This is the first time Ford has implemented wireless integration of these features, in addition to the already available wireless device charging. By cutting the cord, owners can simultaneously operate in-vehicle features (Wi-Fi) and mobile-installed programs (Bluetooth) via the vehicle’s touchscreen, or vice versa.

Voice recognition is further improved to reflect a natural, more conversational language. By combining the database information and cloud-based processing, Sync 4 can understand requests such as “Find me the best burger in this neighborhood” and easily process SMS and email responses. Less fumbling with specific phrasing means less frustration and distraction.

Additionally, with available machine learning capabilities, Sync 4 automatically begins to learn your preferences the moment you activate the system, whether for favorite destinations, navigation routes, or people you call. And although heavily cloud-based, Sync 4 does have significant onboard performance power to continue to support drivers and occupants should their trip pass through any dead zones.

Want Ford Sync 4? You’ll Need a New Car

Unfortunately, because completely new hardware is required, vehicles equipped with Sync 3 cannot be upgraded to Sync 4 via OTA or USB updates like with previous versions.

There is no official word from Ford as to the rollout of Sync 4 following the Mustang Mach-E. However, expect this all-new Sync system to arrive in upcoming all-new models, including the redesigned 2021 Ford F-150.

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