Ford has confirmed the first cars to get its new SYNC 3 infotainment system, with the 2016 Escape and Fiesta top of the list for a dashboard refresh this summer. The two new models will open the door to a veritable gush of upgrades, with Ford promising that its entire North American line-up will be revamped with SYNC 3 before 2016 is out. Among the improvements are smarter voice recognition which Ford says should help keep hands on the wheel more often.
Someone at Qualcomm has the right idea: buy a brand spanking new Maserati, fit it out with the latest in QNX-running, Snapdragon-powered infotainment, and call it a business expense. The company brought its latest concept for the connected dashboard to CES 2015 for the first time, pairing the Snapdragon 602A car-centric chipset with BlackBerry-owned QNX's latest entertainment, safety, speech recognition, and gesture control systems. Qualcomm's argument is that, if next-gen automotive dashboards really are going to gain traction, it'll take a company with a strong presence in chips to push it, and that's why it thinks its 360-degree watching, radar toting prototype will prove convincing.
This week the folks at Ford have revealed their grand re-design of Sync. This is their in-car infotainment and control center software, and this release will be called Sync 3. The big departure comes in Ford's ending of their relationship for software here with Microsoft - Sync and Sync 2 were made with Microsoft - and picking up of BlackBerry's in-car software system QNX. This means touchscreen capabilities, at last, as well as a user interface that's far more recognizable to the smartphone-using age than previous Sync releases.
Ford has denied ditching Microsoft for BlackBerry's QNX to power its new in-car infotainment systems, though pointing out that it is "not married" to Microsoft and suggesting that the field is open for who might supply the next-gen tech it's currently working on. Rumors that Microsoft had been shown the door broke over the weekend, with suggestions that the SYNC system Ford used in millions of car dashboards had seen a steep fall in user-satisfaction.
Ford will ditch Microsoft in favor of BlackBerry to power its next-generation infotainment systems, inside sources claim, switching to QNX for increasingly complex car multimedia duties after ongoing criticisms of the current SYNC system. The transition, yet to be officially announced by either Ford or BlackBerry, is said to be a reaction to poor driver feedback of SYNC, as well as the expense involved in using Microsoft's platform.
A move has been made between Panasonic and QNX Software Systems Limited this week in which in-car infotainment systems will be launched throughout the world in coming years. Panasonic Automotive Systems Company of America is letting it be known that the QNX CAR platform will be hitting North America, Europe, and Japan in a collaborative effort that will bring in-car applications to an enhanced vehicle environment soon.
RIM has officially launched BlackBerry 10, the company's next-gen OS, at BlackBerry World 2012 this week, previewing the platform on a brand new developer device and pinning its hopes for the future on the QNX-based software. Previewed back in the days when RIM was still calling it BBX, BlackBerry 10 leans heavily on HTML5 for its cross-platform software support. There's also an initial developer toolkit for native and HTML5 software development, fresh and ready for download today, with RIM hoping coders get busy creating apps ready for launch-day.
RIM may be giving up to 2,000 developers a BlackBerry 10 device at the BlackBerry Jam event in early May, but the company is keen to point out that we shouldn't extrapolate too much from either hardware or software about the next-gen smartphones. In fact, the OS running on the device - dubbed the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha - won't even be true BlackBerry 10, instead "a prototype running a modified version of the PlayBook OS which will help developers design their apps for the BlackBerry 10 smartphone form factor."
It's strange to see a vehicle here at MWX 2012, especially one running BlackBerry - but here it is, a QNX Porsche 911 working also with a set of BlackBerry PlayBooks. This vehicle has the ability to connect to your BlackBerry smartphone using NFC to stereo telephony, while connections between devices then works instantaneously from there on out with Bluetooth. Control the music at the front of the car with the PlayBooks set in the seats in the back, play video from one part of the car to the other, and roll out on the web throughout the vehicle.
After listening to RIM's new CEO Thursten Heins talk this morning, you could almost hear investors kicking themselves for not being specific enough in their demands for refreshed leadership at the BlackBerry company. "We shouldn't have just asked for a new CEO" shareholders are no doubt muttering, "but made clear we wanted one with new ideas too." Heins, for all his hyperbole about the BlackBerry advantage being its "integrated solution" of hardware, software and services, showed his true colors when he argued that "I don't think there is a drastic change needed." Those colors, it seems, are exactly the same shades as Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie preferred during their tenure at the top. So, is this new CEO simply a temporary placeholder or a sign of fresh misery to come?
RIM's new CEO has confirmed he is open to the possibility of licensing BlackBerry 10 to other manufacturers, though says he is loath to give up the "integrated solution" of software, hardware and more without good strategic reason. "We're strong because we have an integrated solution: network, services, enterprise service and fantastic devices and a fantastic ecosystem" freshly elected CEO and President Thorsten Heins said this morning, during an investor call regarding his new position. "Not many companies have [an integrated system], one is the other fruit company, and one is us."