Much better: Tile style home screen looks much improved compared with earlier versions

Much better: Tile style home screen looks much improved compared with earlier versions

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Ford's updated SYNC 3 technology makes its debuts this summer in North America in the 2016 Escape and Fiesta.

"The new communications and entertainment system is faster and easier to use with enhanced response to driver commands," said Ford. Earlier versions have been cricised for complexity.

The latest version will also go into one of the automaker's highest-volume vehicles in North America, the Escape SUV, and its most affordable car, the Fiesta.

Mark LaNeve, who heads US marketing, sales and service, said: "Customers continue to tell us they want this technology and they want it to be fast and easy to use - like a smartphone. SYNC 3 delivers on that request."

The system offers voice-activated technology to control smartphones and is becoming more capable by minimising the number of steps needed to carry out commands. Selecting music, making a call or searching for a destination is easier thanks to a simpler command structure.

Ford claimed to have been first to bring voice control to vehicle apps with AppLink and that also is further improved.

AppLink allows customers to connect smartphones to vehicles and control compatible apps using voice commands or buttons on the display screen.

It automatically finds apps including Spotify, Pandora, Glympse, NPR One and iHeart Auto (iHeartRadio's automotive app), and displays each set of unique graphics and branding. Music and news apps are automatically displayed along with other media sources such as AM/FM or SiriusXM radio.

When connected to an Apple iPhone, SYNC 3 offers seamless integration of Siri Eyes-Free capability. Drivers can seek Siri's help by holding down the Push to Talk steering wheel button.

Intuitive interface

The latest version is optimised for hands-free use. A new capacitive touch screen offers an experience similar to a smartphone or tablet. Quicker response to touch, as well as voice commands and smartphone like gestures including pinch to zoom and swipe are included along with new graphics.

On-screen complexity is reduced and control options used most are prioritised. The home screen features three zones - Navigation, Audio and Phone. Tile-like icons dominate with a quick access function tray along the bottom making for a more straightforward user experience.

Phone contacts are searchable via a simple swipe of the finger to scroll through the alphabet. With One Box Search, users can look up points of interest or enter addresses in much the same way they use an Internet search engine.

Additional features, including subscription-free 911 Assist

As with earlier generations of the technology, SYNC 3 provides the subscription free emergency service 911 Assist.

The customer's Bluetooth-connected phone is used to dial 911 in the event of a significant accident - alerting first responders with vehicle location. The car relays additional information - including if airbags deploy, whether the crash is front, side, rear or rollover, and the number of safety belts detected in use.

SYNC 3 also now can be updates via Wi-Fi. Once a vehicle is set up with credentials for a home Wi-Fi network accessible in a customer's driveway or garage, it can automatically download updates.