A few years ago, in a market full of generally mediocre in-car entertainment systems, Ford's Sync2 did a few things differently. It was entirely touch-driven if you wanted it to be, but it also handled voice commands reasonably well. To its credit, it's not terrible even now, but it's definitely long in the tooth. It's good to see, then, that Ford's successor -- Sync3 -- is already appearing in some new cars that you can buy today.
The big feature of Sync3 that will work to sell it to most new car buyers is the simultaneous inclusion of both Apple Carplay and Android Auto -- two great in-car nav, phone, notification and audio systems that use the power and connectivity of your phone to make your drive that little bit more comfortable. But you don't need us to explain why those are good; if you've used either already, you'll know just how much better than the standard in-car entertainment experience they both are.
The hook of Sync3, though, is that it doesn't need a phone connected via USB cable to do its job well. It also integrates Ford's Sync AppLink platform, which works to show compatible apps like Spotify on Pandora in the in-car display when a phone is connected over Bluetooth, with a much more streamlined interface than the usual bare, no-album-art situation most Bluetooth hook-ups have.
The four-cornered home screen interface of Sync2 has been refined into three panels in Sync3, putting GPS-powered satellite navigation front and centre; media and phone are off to the side. Each panel can be changed into a full screen in any of a few different guises -- and while it's still basic, it's much cleaner and more attractive, not to mention much faster to operate, than the previous generation.
The speed of Sync3 is its killer feature. It's genuinely quick, much quicker than most competitors and easily on par with Volvo's brilliant XC90 in-car touchscreen. Part of that is the move to a smartphone-esque capacitive touchscreen, part of it is the massive jump in processing power. You notice it in everything from swiping and pinching around the navigation system to the speed with which Sync3 can pair with your phone over Bluetooth.
Sync3 is already in some cars being delivered to lucky customers in Australia. It's being rolled out in a mid-year update to Focus and Mondeo throughout August, will be added into new Mustang and Ranger and Everest vehicles being delivered in September, and the lairy Focus ST and Focus RS in October. Other models in the Ford Australia family will have Sync3 next year.