Ford unveils SYNC 4 system, OTA update plans

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While many carmakers dream of cars that are smart enough to drive themselves, car owners are, at least for now, content to have cars smart enough to at least know them and their lifestyle. One doesn’t have to apply a tremendous amount of AI and machine learning for that and they don’t have to require sophisticated and expensive computers. In fact, Ford is showing off what’s possible with its new SYNC 4 communication and entertainment system that will finally bring Ford cars to the wireless age.

As the number indicates, this isn’t Ford’s first dance with a “smart” car infotainment system. It is, however, the first to fully embrace wireless network technologies. That opens up a number of new use cases, from connecting wirelessly to phones to connecting wirelessly to the cloud.

The Ford SYNC 4 supports wireless connections to smartphones and other mobile devices, utilizing the new wireless feature in Android Auto. Owners can connect via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi for navigation or music. It even supports wireless charging so that connected phones won’t drain as fast.

Perhaps more interestingly, the SYNC 4’s ability to connect to the cloud, thanks to the optional FordPass Connect with LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, opens up new personalized experiences. It can, for example, use machine learning to make suggestions based on preferences and previous use. It can also do speech recognition to better understand conversational commands.

Ford is extending this wireless them to updating the SYNC 4 itself. Starting 2020, around the time the SYNC 4 rolls out to select Ford models, the car maker will start rollling out updates over-the-air (OTA). Ford promises that these updates will be as unintrusive and invisible to owners as possible while still give them control over when they want updates to be installed.

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