Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), in an attempt to keep up with the competition in the smart car market, has added two new features to its suite. Each is an upgrade to Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) products that the company already uses.
According to Ford the new features are:
Ford SYNC 3 software update brings support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to model-year 2016 vehicles
Customers can update by downloading the software to a USB drive, visiting a dealership or over-the-air via a Wi-Fi connection
This is Ford’s first software update via Wi-Fi and offers a convenient and automated alternative to existing upgrade methods
The Android software covers devices with the 5.0 version or higher. It includes often-used products like Google Maps and Android phone features like voice control. Apple CarPlay works with iPhone 5 or later version phones of with iOS 7.1 or higher. It includes hands-free text, Apple music and connections to many iPhone products.
Ford has had trouble keeping up with competition in sales. It is considered the weakest U.S. car company. Its shares trade near a 52-week low. Ford recently laid off many of its nonunion workers in North America and Asia. Some outsiders wonder if CEO Mark Fields will keep his job.
Virtually all new cars sold in the United States have a number of smart car features. Often among these are navigation with verbal directors, hands-free phones, lane departure and collision warnings, and diagnostics that tell the driver if the engine or other critical car parts have problems.
However, many drivers do not like the features because they are complicated. Research firm J.D. Power found, in a 2012 survey, that people disliked Ford advanced technology that in many cases they say negatively affected quality.
Ford’s new initiative adds some fairly basic software features to some of its cars. None of them have features that are uncommon, so Ford is keeping up with the competition, but not moving ahead.