Ford will offer a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot with 2018 model-year models, offer an app that allows drivers to pay for gas without leaving their car, and roll out an updated SYNC 3 infotainment system that integrates smartphone apps, the automaker has announced.
Ford will offer the built-in Wi-Fi hotspot through SYNC Connect, which is powered by AT&T’s 4G LTE network. It can support up to 10 devices at a time and is accessible up to 50 feet outside the vehicle when parked, according to the automaker. Ford will offer it in the fall on select 2018 vehicles, which haven't been announced. An external antenna improves the signal and increases Wi-Fi performance.
“SYNC Connect allows travelers to stay connected and entertained on the go,” said Don Butler, executive director of Ford Connected Vehicle and Services. “The new Wi-Fi hotspot capability will allow kids to easily watch movies and listen to music, or, if you’re on the job, to quickly send emails and access the web from wherever you are.”
Ford owners can select a standalone AT&T data plan. Existing AT&T customers also have the ability to share data among their smartphones, tablets, and vehicles. New vehicle buyers qualify for a trial subscription of three months or three gigabytes.
Ford is also integrating ExxonMobil’s Speedpass+ app to make gas purchases possible from inside the vehicle. Speedpass+ users can access the app from their Ford SYNC 3 touch screen or by voice commands to authorize payment. The vehicle is able to recognize that it is at a participating Exxon or Mobil station via GPS capabilities.
There are approximately 9,400 participating Exxon and Mobil stations where the application can be used, and the Ford SYNC 3 touch screen, is able to show a list of nearby stations.
Ford has also expanded its SYNC 3 infotainment system by granting drivers the ability to control smartphone apps while driving, and adding connectivity between SYNC and Amazon Alexa.
The SYNC AppLink system moves control of an app that's compatible with the device and automatically projects it into the vehicle’s screen when a smartphone is paired to the vehicle via USB cable, according to the automaker.
The new SYNC AppLink mobile navigation capability will also launch on 2018 Ford vehicles.
Meanwhile, Ford has also integrated Amazon Alexa technology, which allows Ford owners to play audiobooks, search for and transfer local destinations to the in-car navigation system or order items on Amazon.
Home-to-car connectivity will be available later this month on Alexa devices. Later this summer, drivers will be able to utilize Alexa with voice commands.