Anyone who experienced Ford Motor Company's [NYSE:F] MyFord Touch infotainment system is likely still recovering from the nightmare that were the blue screen of death, glitchy software, frozen screens, slow responses, and a complicated overall user experience. For the 2016 model year, Ford wiped the slate clean and ditched the MyFord Touch system in favor of Sync 3.
The new Sync 3 system loses the previous Microsoft Auto operating system and uses Blackberry's QNX system. For the technically inclined, think Linux versus DOS here.
Recently, we had the opportunity to spend some time with Sync 3 in the 2016 Ford Escape. Here's what we learned:
Right off the bat Sync 3 is galaxies better than MyFord Touch in the real world. It's quick, and we didn't experience one hiccup when it came to the user interface in all our testing. Simply put, it actually works as you would expect. While this might seem like a trivial thing, after using MyFord Touch, it's rather notable.
It's also dead simple to use. The virtual buttons on the touchscreen are large and crisp. The layout is simple, and so is the graphical user interface. It's not visually distracting in the least.
Changing settings; using Bluetooth streaming; switching between navigation, radio, and the settings functions--it's all a cinch. Plug in your iPhone and it instantly indexes the music and starts playing. Want to play Pandora off your iPhone? No problem, it's simple and works. We can't say same for some other automakers' infotainment systems.
It's 2016. These are 2016 model year vehicles. Sync 3 is a new system from Ford, and it doesn't come with Apple's CarPlay system or Google's Android Auto. To be fair, at this week's Consumer Electronics Show, Ford announced that all 2017 models with Sync 3 would be getting both CarPlay and Android Auto, and that Ford will offer a free update for 2016 model year vehicles with Sync 3 to add these systems later this year. Still, why didn't Sync 3 launch with these?
Flat out, Sync 3 isn't pretty. The bit about it being dead simple in the list of good things? It's almost to the point of being a detriment. The graphical user interface is beyond simple. It's as if they designed it, coded it, and then said, "It's 5 pm, let's not bother making it shiny or pretty. I want to go home and have a beer." Even just a smidge of spit and polish (read: graphic design) would improve it visually. We aren't talking about adding fancy flash animation by any means.
Volvo's new touchscreen Sensus infotainment system is easy-to-use and gorgeous. Chrysler's current third-generation Uconnect system is drop-dead simple to use and not hard on the eyes, though the low-resolution screen is annoying. Chrysler's newly announced fourth-generation Uconnect system rectifies the low-resolution screen issue and makes the easy-to-use infotainment system even prettier than before.
If others can do it, why can't Ford?
Is Sync 3 better than MyFord Touch? Absolutely. Is it the best infotainment system on the market? Not yet. But like most technologies, it will continue to improve with updates, and it's worlds better than what we had before.