Millions of Ford customers have purchased vehicles with built-in navigation technology, and the latest versions often come with the ability to show where traffic is backed up. But the Metro Detroit-based automaker plans to take things a step further.
Owners will now be able to access the Waze app through Ford’s Sync infotainment system. Waze, which was developed in Israel and then purchased by Google for $1.3 billion in 2013, goes beyond traditional navigation programs. It offers up routes that are designed to specifically avoid traffic, often detouring off clogged freeways and main arteries onto back roads and through residential neighborhoods.
There is a caveat, however. First shown at the Consumer Electronics Show last winter, the feature will only be able to work on Ford vehicles with the carmaker’s latest infotainment system, Sync 3. And, at least initially, it will only be available for those with an Apple iPhone using a relatively recent operating system, iOS 11.3 or later.
“Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to access the smartphone features, apps and services they care about most in the car, without having to pick up their device,” said Don Butler, executive director, connected vehicle platform and product, Ford Motor Co. “With Waze, our customers get the benefits they’re accustomed to with the added luxury of experiencing them on a bigger screen.”
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Ford has been one of the more aggressive manufacturers when it comes to integrating smartphone-based apps into their infotainment systems, even buying a Detroit-based company that was considered a leader in smartphone integration. Among other things, the latest version of Sync can access news, traffic, fuel prices and other information.
Ford has also added both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to many of its vehicles, essentially letting Sync replicate the look and feel of a smartphone screen. Not all apps can be operated from a vehicle touchscreen, however, but must first be specifically coded to display and run properly.
Waze has been a high-demand feature. It has become a must-use app for millions of American motorists, especially in crowded areas like Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta and Chicago, where drivers regularly can be spotted exiting freeways during rush hours and following seemingly circuitous routes that Waze promises will be quicker.
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The Google-owned service has generated some serious controversy, however, Los Angeles city officials trying to get Waze to rule some areas off limits because of the heavy traffic that it has diverted onto otherwise quiet local streets. Some communities have set up speed bumps and other traffic disrupters in a bid to get Waze to shift drivers elsewhere.
That has done little to reduce the popularity of the service, however, which continues to grow along with urban traffic problems.
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Ford owners whose vehicles have Sync 3 will be able to pop Waze up on their infotainment displays as long as they have the app on an Apple iPhone using iOS 11.3 or a later version of the operating system. Ford says it is now working to make the system operate for those with Android-based smartphones.