Weekly Brief: With Sync 3, Ford sends Microsoft and MyFordTouch packing

In this week’s Brief: Ford, Microsoft, QNX, Verizon Telematics, Magna International, BMW, the Center for Innovation and Business Creation at Technical University Munich, Volvo, Nokia HERE, Spotify and Uber.

 

Eight years after taking in-car infotainment mainstream, Ford went back to the drawing board and returned last week with a completely redesigned Ford Sync. The new Sync 3 is built for a world familiar with the mobile experience. No more complicated voice commands or befuddling touch screens that often left drivers scratching their heads with MyFordTouch. Sync 3 has more conversational voice recognition technology, a more intuitive, smartphone-like touch screen and a graphical interface that makes it easy to connect to and control a smartphone while on the road.

 

“We considered all the modern smartphones and mobile operating systems and created something familiar but unique,” says Parrish Hanna, Ford global director of Human Machine Interface.

 

Ford neglected to mention in its press announcement that MyFordTouch has been wiped from the new Sync experience and that former partner Microsoft has been sent packing. In its place, Ford has partnered with the company that powers the preponderance of in-vehicle infotainment systems today — QNX — allowing Ford Sync to catch back up with a mainstream that has, in many respects, surpassed it for functionality and ease of use. Sync 3 will appear in select Ford and Lincoln models in 2015 before becoming standard for both brands in 2016.

 

In other news, tech accelerators are all the rage these days, so why not in the automotive industry with a focus on connectivity?

 

Verizon Telematics, Magna International and Ford partnered with the Techstars accelerator to launch “Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit” – a startup incubator that aims to foster innovative mobility and transportation solutions. The specific focus for the 10 participating startups will be on alleviating global challenges like traffic congestion, parking availability and pollution. The three-month program will be based in downtown Detroit and will provide mentorship and $120,000 in funding. Info here.

 

BMW and the Center for Innovation and Business Creation at Technical University Munich meanwhile launched an accelerator program for technology startups called TechFounders. The 10 startups in the program will get three months of office space, prototyping workshops and access to 25,000 euros without sacrificing any equity or paying any fees. Check out the website for more details.

 

Volvo combined all of its advanced crash avoidance technologies under the umbrella name “City Safety” — a warning and brake support system that can avoid or mitigate accidents when a collision is imminent. City Safety is based on a combined camera and radar unit integrated in front of the interior rear-view mirror. In addition to the new umbrella term, Volvo added a new “world first” function to the system’s repertoire: automatic braking if a driver turns in front of an oncoming vehicle in an intersection. The feature will debut on the all-new Volvo XC90.

 

Nokia HERE updated its website to give users one-click access to traffic information along daily commutes or familiar routes. A new feature called Jam Factor highlights traffic conditions in specific areas, rating the traffic between free flowing and stopped, while a more granular Points of Interest offering highlights everything from restaurants and gas stations to snack bars and parking lots.

 

Nokia also released HERE for Android on Google Play. The free app eliminates the need to sideload from here.com, as the million people who have already taken HERE for Android for a spin had to do. No need to uninstall the existing app if you’ve already downloaded it. HERE released this video to promote the Android release.

 

Finally, the ability to stream music from phone to car has become pretty standard on new vehicles these days. What about from phone to cab? Spotify and Uber recently partnered up so that drivers can listen to their own music while riding with Uber. Users have to load their Spotify accounts into their Uber Profiles. When they get matched up with a music-enabled Uber, the music bar appears at the bottom of the Uber app and users can play away.

 

Check out this video debuting the partnership.

 

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

Andrew Tolve is a regular TU contributor.


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