Last week, we were able to get a first-hand demonstration of Ford’s next generation Sync 3 infotainment and connectivity system that will soon replace the generally unloved MyFord Touch system. Based on Blackberry’s QNX infotainment system, Sync 3 features an all-new operating system and microprocessor and an eight-inch touchscreen with improved graphics and touch sensitivity, faster performance, and better voice recognition.

Given the criticism that MyFordTouch system has endured over the past few years, it’s not surprising that Ford’s Technology and Communications Manager, Alan Hall, is enthusiastic about the changes to Sync 3. “We really spent time to make the system work more like a tablet or smartphone so consumers view the experience just like their phone. That’s the expectation level they’ve come to demand so we made sure we use a processor that’s an automotive version of a processor that’s found in an Amazon Fire tablet.”

Key to the Sync 3’s new design is a simplified, easier-to-see-and-use screen design with larger screen buttons and faster response times.

“We’ve made a lot of effort to simplify things,” said Hall. “We’ve made fonts bigger, the screen brighter so it pops in bright sunlight much better. We’ve reduced the amount of main screens from four to three. You’ve got bigger boxes to jump in and out of so you’re not having to zero-in on a small icon; it’s much easier for someone to land on the button.” Like a smartphone or tablet, Sync 3 allows users to swipe, pinch and zoom.

The screen’s bright background and large tile-like icons are much easier to navigate than the small icons in the MyFordTouch screen. With its eye-pleasing sky-blue background and large white buttons with contrasting black letters and numerals, the Sync 3 interface is easy to read at a glance, and its improved touch sensitivity now requires a gentle, firm touch rather than an elongated prod. We noted that the screen’s icons are will work just as well with the touch of a fingernail, something that may be of concern for women drivers with long fingernails.

Instead of major menus being located at the four corners of the screen, the Sync 3 Home screen now includes a horizontal line-up of tiles at the bottom of the screen for major functions, Audio, Phone, Climate, Nav, Apps and Settings – these are always visible except when the navigation map is displayed – in which case they can be called up by touching a button on the bottom of the screen. The Home screen also includes a split screen with a navigation map on the left and two large icons for summarized audio and phone information on the right.

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