Ford has announced a partnership with Google, which will see future vehicles from the Blue Oval look to the American technology giant for infotainment and in-car technologies.
Much of the development work will occur in Australia, where Ford's 2500 engineers will work to integrate the Google system into its future models, including both those bound for our shores and 180 global markets.
The six-year partnership, commencing in 2023, will lead to millions of next-generation Ford and Lincoln models switch to Android for the basis of their infotainment systems, incorporating Google apps and services within, and over-the-air updates.
Google Assistant will be employed for inbuilt voice recognition, Google Maps will become the default navigation system (replacing Ford's own sat-nav system), and Google Play will be incorporated to allow passengers to download car-specific apps for listening to music, audiobooks and podcasts directly from the infotainment system.
Fortunately for Apple iPhone users, Apple CarPlay is still expected to be offered, despite its Google underpinnings.
Behind the scenes, Ford will leverage Google's wide array of cloud and data analytics technologies, badged Google Cloud, in order to "accelerate the automaker’s digital transformation, modernize operations, and power connected vehicle technologies with Google’s trusted, secure, and reliable cloud [services]".
Above: Sync 4, in the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Top of story: Ford's earlier Sync 3 system, pictured in the new Ford Puma small SUV.
It's unclear whether the new system will be based off Google's existing Android Automotive infotainment architecture.
However, it's understood the system will be developed by Ford itself – with a Ford and Lincoln-themed appearance – and will be branded under the Blue Oval's 'Sync' infotainment family, the latest, fourth-generation version of which features in the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV in the US (above).
"This new partnership will give our customers digital experiences in their vehicles that they already have on their phones as the platform will continually update products and services wirelessly over time", said Con Papadomanolakis, Ford Australia Engineering Director.
"Our 2500-strong team in Australia engineer world-class global vehicles, and connectivity is an ever-growing part of that development. We’ll keep prioritising the growth and development of our Australian team to support and benefit from these exciting new technologies.
"We expect this partnership to accelerate our Australian team’s abilities so that we can become world leaders in the auto-tech space, and to have that kind of skill in Australia is incredibly valuable not just for Ford but for Australia overall."
Ford isn't the first car manufacturer to adopt Android for its in-car technologies, with Volvo and its spin-off performance brand Polestar recently introducing an Android Automotive-based system in the Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge and Polestar 2 electric vehicles.