Ford SYNC3 improves responsiveness needs better voice recognition

sync3fordAt the LA Auto Show, the fastest connection to Bluetooth with an in-car system was achieved in For SYNC. Analysts at Strategy Analytics took a look at the Ford SYNC3 in-vehicle infotainment system and found that the system is an improvement over MyFord Touch.

SYNC3 shows a row of icons along the bottom of the touchscreen which offers easy access to features on a responsive touchscreen. Navigation search using the touchscreen was a significant improvement. Speech recognition for address entry was impressive but fragile for other key tasks.  SYNC3 still had “issues” in recognizing the availability of smartphone apps.

Kevin Nolan, VP, UXIP reported that SYNC3 is a major step forward for Ford and its responsiveness and ease of access to features are positive. The improved touchscreen experience allows users to rely less on the speech system which is impressive when it works – but unfortunately it does not work often enough to be a primary interface.

Surveying consumers in the US using SYNC3 in a 2016 Ford Escape, the responsive touchscreen made it easy for consumers to switch between the features they wanted such as:

  • Duplicating streaming media apps within the audio menu aligned with user expectations
  • Navigation was much improved with the addition of one line entry for both addresses and POIs.

However, while apps within SYNC3 are much improved over AppLink in terms of ease of access to available apps and using features within each app, the system still suffered from issues around identifying available apps and which confuses and frustrates the end user.

Chris Schreiner, Director, IVX and report author found performance of the speech recognition system in SYNC3 to be a mixed bag. Navigation destination entry and calling a contact are simple. Address entry in particular is very impressive. However POI search, tuning the radio, and dialing a number could be improved with more flexible grammar or in the case of POI, a more smartphone like database and experience that reduces the number of steps.

Schreiner noted that while the touchscreen responsiveness was much improved over previous models, this experience would benefit from the addition of tuning controls on the touchscreen or a dedicated tuning knob.