Automotive News Mobility Report

Ford using first over-the-air software updates for 2016 models

Thus far, established automakers have not used OTAs for safety systems, only for non-critical systems. Photo credit: Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ford Motor Co. said on Friday it would delve into the growing arena of "over-the-air" software updates, adding Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to its Sync 3-equipped 2016 vehicles for the first time via a wireless software update.

The latest upgrade to Sync 3, Ford's interactive touch-screen system, will be accomplished through an over-the-air update (OTA) using Wi-Fi, not unlike how new software gets uploaded to smartphones by manufacturers.

After Tesla Inc.'s early lead in 2015 introducing OTAs, traditional automakers are slowly beginning to embrace the new technology, within limits. Concerns about security and resistance from dealers worried about losing service revenue have hampered its adoption.

Thus far, established automakers have not used OTAs for safety systems, only for non-critical systems like infotainment.

Customers can also get the update via the traditional means of visiting their dealer or using a USB drive, Ford said.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are operating systems from Google and Apple that allow drivers to connect their smartphones to their vehicles' dashboard.

Ford's first use of OTAs comes about two months after it said it would hire 400 engineers to work on connectivity, mostly from Blackberry Ltd's shuttered phone handset business. Blackberry QNX powers Ford's Sync 3 system.

Besides being more convenient for customers, OTAs can bring automakers cost savings, as a substantial percentage of warranty repair issues and recalls can be corrected through OTAs. 

25

Shares

ATTENTION COMMENTERS: Over the last few months, Automotive News has monitored a significant increase in the number of personal attacks and abusive comments on our site. We encourage our readers to voice their opinions and argue their points. We expect disagreement. We do not expect our readers to turn on each other. We will be aggressively deleting all comments that personally attack another poster, or an article author, even if the comment is otherwise a well-argued observation. If we see repeated behavior, we will ban the commenter. Please help us maintain a civil level of discourse.

Newsletters