That means each and every 2017 model year car, light truck, and SUV will be able to support the latest smartphone-based infotainment solutions from Google and Apple. Customers who don’t want to take advantage of the fully-integrated solutions from the top smartphone OS makers can also choose to add apps directly to SYNC 3 — including Spotify, Pandora, and AccuWeather — using SYNC AppLink.
“SYNC 3 is already a major leap forward in terms of functionality, simplicity, and user experience,” said Jeffrey Hannah of automotive technology research firm SBD. “Ford is not taking the traditional approach of introducing Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto on a few piecemeal models or as an expensive option on luxury vehicles only.”
This is an obvious knock against competing automakers like Honda and Hyundai which offer CarPlay and Android Auto on select models, but not across their entire vehicle lineups. Some auto manufacturers have promised to provide software updates that add the functionality, yet have either delayed the releases or cancelled them altogether.
Then you have companies like Toyota and Subaru that have shown little interest at all in adding support for Android Auto or CarPlay, and instead only provide their own [often] subpar infotainment systems with outdated navigation systems. And despite the fact that Mazda is listed as a supported manufacturer for both systems, the Japanese company's all-new from the ground-up CX-9 crossover (which has received great overall praise from the automotive media) has shown no love for either interface.
One the most obvious added benefits of solutions like Android Auto and CarPlay is that even if you buy a barebones, entry-level version of a vehicle, you’ll still have access to a full-featured navigation app (via Google Maps or Apple Maps) via your vehicle’s display screen. Navigation from the factory could add $1,000 or more to a new car purchase, and often times the functionality is bundled in with more expensive option packages or higher trim levels that could cost you thousands of dollars.
In order to take advantage of CarPlay on 2017 model year Ford vehicles, you’ll will need an iPhone 5 or later smartphone. If you want to use Android Auto, you’ll need an Android smartphone running Lollipop or newer.