Ford is joining several other automakers and adding Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto to its Sync touchscreen infotainment system.
The automaker also plans to install a 4G LTE wireless connection to its vehicles starting with the 2017 model year.
The familiar Apple and Google systems will be mimicked on the car’s screen, with voice commands available. Ford said Monday that owners of Sync 3-equipped 2016 models in North America will get a chance to update software later this year, and the systems will appear on all Sync-equipped 2017 models.
Initially the wireless modem will let drivers find their cars in parking lots, unlock and start them from smart phones, and check the gas level and tire pressure. While the car is moving, smartphones will still be needed for internet access. But spokesman Alan Hall says eventually the modems will be available for use as wireless hot spots. He says there won’t be any recurring service fee for the first five years.
Ford also will announce additional apps that will be compatible with Sync.
Hall wouldn’t comment on reports that Ford and Google will announce an autonomous car partnership at the gadget show. But he says Ford will have an autonomous car announcement.