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Ford Wi-Fi update brings Apple CarPlay, Android Auto to 2016 Sync 3 users

You can also use a good old-fashioned USB stick, if you're not comfortable with a Wi-Fi update.

2016 Ford Escape Sync 3
Wayne Cunningham/CNET

For a while now, Ford has promised that it would bring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to Sync 3 users in 2016-model-year vehicles. It looks like Ford has finally come through on that promise.

Ford will finally bring smartphone mirroring to its older vehicles running Sync 3, the latest version of Ford's in-car touchscreen infotainment system. As long as a user's Sync 3 system is running version 2.2, the update can be installed one of two different ways.

This is Ford's first Wi-Fi OTA update. Fancy!


If you like plugging things in, grab a USB drive and head over to Ford's owner site. You can download the Sync 3 update to a thumb drive and bring it out to your car. If you're not comfortable doing it yourself, the dealership can also update the system for you.

If you're feeling "with it" technologically, it's also available via Ford's first-ever Wi-Fi update. By enabling Automatic System Updates in the car's settings and connecting to a home Wi-Fi network, the car can automatically download and install the update. It can happen while the car is off, so long as the car was connected to said Wi-Fi network while it was running.

While this is technically an over-the-air (OTA) update, it bears mentioning that Ford's method is a little different than, say, Tesla's. Tesla's vehicles are capable of pulling updates straight from the internet without using an owner's Wi-Fi connection. Since Ford didn't offer an internet connection on its model-year 2016 vehicles, it must make use of your existing Wi-Fi network.

Prior to this update, Ford only supported Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on model-year 2017 vehicles. This update gives many more cars access to these two systems, which bring their respective phone UIs to the infotainment system, offering reduced distraction while maintaining some phone functionality. Both systems integrate the car's own controls and work in conjunction with the car's voice recognition.