Ford’s SYNC3 just scored a big win for itself with the announcement that the infotainment system will be soon be available with native support for Waze, the Google-owned community-supported navigation app, as announced at this year’s CES.
It represents a leg up for the platform, which is built upon some comparatively advanced underpinnings, based on QNX. Because of that, app developers can much more easily create advanced apps to run within SYNC3 instead of plugging in a smartphone and leveraging its processor, GPU, cellular connections, and internal storage - such as is the case with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The method in which developers can create native apps for SYNC3 is marketed as AppLink by Ford, which keeps the user within the same interface and - theoretically - helps maintains a more uniform experience.
However, because certain functions do require a cellular data connection, such as live traffic updates, a smartphone will need to be connected via USB, which also allows - upon permission - the Waze app to communicate with the user’s account profile and temporary access to information such as preferred destinations and previous journeys.
Ford has worked with Waze to provide the full functionality that users of the app are accustomed to using on their smartphones, even more recent feature additions such as voice commands (Talk to Waze) and high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) route support.
“Our goal is to bring a human-centered approach to technology in the vehicle, making it as easy as possible for people to integrate the tools that matter most to them,” said Don Butler, Ford executive director, Connected Vehicle and Services.
“With the flexibility of our SYNC 3 software and AppLink, customers can easily use Waze to get all the traffic and navigation help they need – on a big screen and without having to fiddle around with their phones while driving.”
The reveal at 2018’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas marks a delivery on the promise set at last year’s Mobile World Congress, wherein Ford and Waze first made public their partnership to optimise the mobile app’s experience for seamless use in Ford vehicles with their new-generation infotainment software, made possible by more powerful hardware.
Currently, the Waze team has confirmed that support for the AppLink integration with SYNC3 will only work with iOS devices, requiring only that the app also be installed on the smartphone itself prior to being plugged in.
Jens Baron, product lead for B2B and in-car applications at Waze, said: “We are happy to showcase our partnership with Ford through AppLink SDL on iOS – a seamless in-car navigation experience that connects Waze navigation to your car’s console,”
It’s not clear how or how soon Ford plans to roll out the feature to existing owners around the world with cars already equipped with SYNC3. Presumably it will be rolled out internationally quite soon and come as part of a firmware update installable over-the-air by the owner via Wi-Fi, through USB, or through a dealership.