Ford today has officially announced its new next-generation in-car infotainment system. While Ford is doubling down on its own native experience, it’s also expanding its commitment to CarPlay.
I had a chance to visit Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan last week for a sneak preview of the new “Ford and Lincoln Digital Experience.” Here’s what you need to know…
Much of Ford’s emphasis is on its new native in-car infotainment software, which packs a wide-range of features. This includes things like dedicated apps for Spotify, Prime Video, and more. There’s integrated Google Maps, access to apps via Google Play, built-in Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and built-in gaming support with apps like Asphalt Nitro 2.
Ford’s latest digital experience is built on Google’s Android Automotive operating system platform, on top of which automakers are free to add Android Auto and CarPlay support. Our friends over at 9to5Google have some more details on this as well.
While this may sound like bad news for CarPlay fans, have no fear. Ford is not following in GM’s footsteps and ditching CarPlay. In fact, it actually has good news for CarPlay users as part of this announcement.
As part of the new Ford and Lincoln Digital Experience, Ford is adding support for dual-screen Apple Maps for the first time. This means that when you start Apple Maps navigation on the primary CarPlay screen, the Apple Maps interface will expand into the instrument cluster display. This is not next-generation CarPlay support.
Apple first added support for dual-screen CarPlay back in 2019, giving automakers the ability to expand the CarPlay interface to instrument cluster displays. Adoption of this feature has been very slow, and I first went hands-on with it last year in a Polestar 2.
I had a chance to see it in action in the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus as well as a preview of how it will look in a more “traditional” Ford screen arrangement. In the Nautilus, the second-screen Apple Maps interface takes the place of the built-in Google Maps interface in the car’s panoramic display. It essentially melds the Lincoln’s native design with CarPlay, with a seamless transition on either side.
Apple Maps can also coexist alongside Ford’s native interface in the center screen, appearing as a tile next to native Ford apps.
Here’s a look at it in action on the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus:
And here’s what it will look like in a more traditional Ford car, with the full CarPlay interface on the center screen and Apple Maps on the instrument cluster screen.
In an ideal world, Ford would have simultaneously announced its support for Apple’s next-generation CarPlay platform. This platform expands CarPlay to the entire in-car experience and is coming first to Porsche and Aston Martin cars this year. I asked Ford about its plans for next-generation CarPlay, but the company said it has nothing to announce at this time.
However, Ford repeatedly emphasized to me that it very much values its partnership with Apple. The company says that it is not only committed to keeping CarPlay around, but is also committed making its implementation even better.
Dual-screen Apple Maps via CarPlay is a great feature and is a step in the right direction. I hope there’s more to come, but in a world where there seems to be more bad CarPlay news than good CarPlay news, I very much welcome this announcement from Ford.
Ford says that the new digital experience will debut first in the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus, and to “stay tuned for the first Ford Digital Experience vehicle integration” announcements.
Full press release:
Enhance Your Drive: Introducing the All-New Ford and Lincoln Digital Experience
Unifying Digital and Driving Experiences
Our lives center around digital ecosystems and the proliferating number of devices we use to stay connected to the most important people, content and services. The average U.S. household now owns 16 connected devices, according to a 2022 study from Parks Associates. With home and work lives intertwined, consumers expect consistent access across their smartphones, watches, tablets and laptops. At Ford, we believe this seamless connection should continue when our customers hit the road.
Now, with the all-new Ford and Lincoln Digital Experience, customers can access their digital lives, including their favorite apps and services from Google and Amazon, with their choice of using the new integrated native experience or one powered by their smartphone through Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™.
From the moment customers enter a vehicle with a Ford or Lincoln Digital Experience, their vehicle becomes a personalized experience, with apps and content easily displayed front and center to help make time behind the wheel more enjoyable, even when parked.
Elevate Your Driving Experience
The user experience with Ford and Lincoln Digital Experience is crafted around the driver to be simple and intuitive, with a touchscreen control panel and buttons on the steering wheel.
- The Ford and Lincoln Digital Experience first come to life through beautiful display screens, including a 48-inch immersive panoramic display first available on the 2024 Lincoln Nautilus. It is the highest-resolution display Lincoln has offered.
- The panoramic display makes critical information available right where you need it, such as preferred apps and services – including BlueCruise for hands-free highway driving – displayed on the screen in the driver’s line of sight.
- The ability to place apps and services in the desired spot on the touchscreen or panoramic screen is intended to be as simple as possible. Supportive information like media, weather and fuel economy can be seen with a quick glance via widgets on the right side of the display. This helps drivers keep their eyes up and out to look at the road ahead, while providing the custom information they desire.
- Establishing profiles enables each driver to set preferences to appear when entering the vehicle. These include apps, contacts, and favorite destinations, plus customized seating, steering wheel and mirror positions.
- Getting around town is simple, using integrated Google Maps for real-time traffic, road conditions, dynamic and eco-friendly routes and points of interest.
- Designed to prioritize the use of voice, Google Assistant serves as the default voice assistant and Alexa Built-In is also available as an alternative for in-vehicle controls such as to set in-vehicle temperature, search information, find and set a destination and request a specific broadcast or satellite radio station. It can also help with making calls, sending texts, setting a meeting, or controlling connected home devices.
Download Your Favorite Apps
The experience connects to a customer’s digital life to make the cabin more personalized.
- Enjoy streaming music, audiobooks, and podcasts using entertainment apps downloaded on Google Play including Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible, and iHeartRadio, as well embedded SiriusXM with 360L for a personalized listening experience so they are always available in the vehicle – regardless of whether a smartphone is connected in the vehicle.
- While parked, play games on the touchscreen by selecting from a growing list available on Google Play, including a Ford-exclusive version of the racing game Asphalt Nitro 2. Connect to a Bluetooth-enabled gaming controller for a more immersive experience.
- Watch videos and stream your favorite movies and TV shows when parked with apps such as YouTube, Prime Video and more to stay entertained while out and about on daily journeys.
- Surf the web while parked using the available Vivaldi Browser app – as well as Google Chrome coming soon – including with a Bluetooth-connected keyboard to make typing easier.
- Stay productive on the go, and never miss a work call with leading video conferencing apps coming soon, enabling audio access while driving and displaying the incoming video feed of participants while parked.
A platform built for the future: The Ford and Lincoln Digital Experience is the fastest infotainment system Ford and Lincoln has ever offered. The system is capable of more than five times faster main processing, nearly 14 times faster graphics processing and features four times the memory and eight times the storage compared to today’s Ford and Lincoln in-vehicle infotainment system. It’s designed to enable more new apps and services in the future thanks to over-the-air software update capability.
- 5G wireless technology brings incredibly fast connectivity and with a Ford or a Lincoln Premium Connectivity plan, it will provide the best possible in-vehicle experience.
- The availability to activate a Wi-Fi hotspot can help ensure that passengers can happily stream on their own devices inside the vehicle.
Ready for Software Updates
The Ford and Lincoln Digital Experience represents a step forward in Ford’s approach to design and development of in-vehicle infotainment systems. The company is developing more of the software in-house to deliver a higher velocity of updates and improvements.
Ford has built a general computing platform to deliver more of the benefits of a software-defined system. This includes transitioning from using two separate modules for the instrument cluster and infotainment system to a single module to facilitate faster software changes and better speed of response to commands via updates.
It was important to choose an operating system with a scalable and open architecture that offers customization to serve the evolving needs of customers over time.
Bringing more of the software development in-house allows for the creation of unique experiences like the widgets in the panoramic display and the ability to help make the vehicle better over time through software updates.
Customers will experience new apps and services faster than before because apps and system-level updates are now independent of each other. System-level updates are pushed through vehicle software updates like what happens today, while other applications can come through Google Play. This enables the customer to benefit from new apps coming from third-party developers versus app experiences being tied to vehicle system software updates.
Only The Beginning
The Ford and Lincoln Digital Experience deliver a driver-first experience that can be personalized and customized to fit unique customer needs and ultimately make the driving experience more enjoyable. The Lincoln Digital Experience is available on the all-new 2024 Lincoln Nautilus available now. Stay tuned for the first Ford Digital Experience vehicle integration.
Don’t drive while distracted or while using handheld devices. Use voice-operated systems when possible. Some features may be locked out while the vehicle is in gear. Eligible 2024 model year vehicles receive complimentary access to three years of Alexa Built-in and one year of Lincoln Premium Connectivity Connected Service plan which begins on the New Warranty start date. Cellular network may limit functionality and prevent operation of connected features.
Available Feature. BlueCruise requires a Connected Service plan, FordPass® App or Lincoln Way® App, and modem activation. Equipped vehicles come with either a complimentary trial period or an included BlueCruise Connected Service plan duration, after which purchase is required. See ford.com/bluecruise or your Lincoln retailer for more details. BlueCruise driver-assist features are supplemental and do not replace safe driving or driver’s attention, judgment and need to control the vehicle. Only remove hands in a Hands-Free Blue Zone. Always watch the road and be prepared to resume control. See Owner’s Manual for details and limitations.
Eligible vehicles receive 3 years of complimentary access to Alexa Built-in. Lincoln Premium Connectivity offered on eligible vehicles with a 1-year complimentary service. Trials begin upon New Vehicle Warranty start date. Access to Alexa Built-in requires an Amazon account, Lincoln Digital Experience, Lincoln Way® activated through the Lincoln Way® App (see Lincoln Way Terms for details). Some Google Assistant, Google Maps, Google Play, and Alexa Built-in features require Lincoln Premium Connectivity connected service plan or Wi-Fi network. Connected service and features depend on compatible AT&T network availability. Evolving technology/cellular networks/vehicle capability may limit functionality and prevent operation of connected features. Lincoln Way® App, compatible with select smartphone platforms, is available via a download. Message and data rates may apply.
Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay®: Requires phone with active data service plan and compatible software. In-Vehicle Digital Experience does not control third-party products while in use. Third parties are solely responsible for their respective functionality. Data rates may apply. Not all features are compatible with all phones.
Lincoln Connect, the Lincoln Way App and complimentary Connected Service are required for remote features, including over-the-air updates. (see Lincoln Way Terms for details). Lincoln Way App is available via a download; message and data rates may apply. Connected Service and features depend on compatible AT&T network availability. Evolving technology/ cellular networks/ vehicle capability may limit functionality and prevent operation of connected features. Connected Service excludes Wi‑Fi hotspot.
Google, Google Play, Google Map, Google Chrome and other marks are trademarks of Google LLC.
Amazon, Alexa Built-In, Audible, Amazon Music, Prime Video and all related marks are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.
Apple, Apple CarPlay, iPhone and Siri are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
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