Ford using first over-the-air software updates to its 2016 cars

by Fredrick Graves May 20, 2017, 0:42
Ford using first over-the-air software updates to its 2016 cars

The American automobile giant is pushing out Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay support to its 2016-model vehicles with the help of its existing SYNC 3 infotainment software. If your vehicle is Wi-Fi-enabled, you can perform an over-the-air (OTA) update from within the vehicle to upgrade to the latest version of SYNC 3 (using the Automatic System Updates feature). Android Auto, on the other hand, seems to have no installation restrictions. This is possible on 2016-models, where the SYNC 3 system is running on version 2.2 or higher.

The update comes after carmakers Audi and Volvo announced that they will be using Android as the main operating system for their upcoming cars. Instead of relying on their vehicle's built-in navigation system, which might be outdated, they can project Google Maps onto their car's in-dash display, for instance.

There is one additional, potentially pricey step you'll need to take if you want to use CarPlay, however: Ford says CarPlay support requires a USB hub upgrade from a Ford dealership.

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Apple CarPlay works with iPhone 5 and later models with iOS 7.1 and higher.

First introduced in 2014, CarPlay allows auto owners to access Apple apps from their vehicle's infotainment screen, including Phone, Music, Apple Maps, and more. If an update is available, the system automatically downloads the update in the background over a period of time without any customer interaction.

The move is a leap forward for Ford, which said in a press release Friday that it's the first time the automaker has offered an over-the-air update via Wi-Fi. By enabling Automatic System Updates in the car's settings and connecting to a home Wi-Fi network, the vehicle can automatically download and install the update. Ford says the update will work for as long as Wi-Fi is connected prior to the vehicle turning off, adding that you don't actually have to keep the auto running to install the new features.


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