Ford to provide over-the-air software updates
Ford announced that in 2020 it will begin equipping most redesigned vehicles in the U.S. with over-the-air (OTA) update technology. Ford says its bumper-to-bumper OTAs will include nearly all vehicle computer modules, including in conventional gas-engine vehicles.
“Nobody wants to feel like they’re missing out on great features right after spending their hard-earned money on a new vehicle—that’s where our over-the-air updates can help,” said Don Butler, Executive Director, Connected Vehicle and Services, Ford Motor Company. “We can now help improve your vehicle’s capability, quality, and overall driving experience while you’re sleeping.”
Ford expects to deliver its first updates about six months after launching the first vehicles with the capability in 2020. Other updates could add new features to vehicles, just as when Ford added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility to SYNC 3 through USB and WiFi updates several years ago.
Some updates will be virtually invisible to customers, enabled by a platform that installs much of the new software in the background. This new platform keeps current software running until the new version is ready for activation—something that no other vehicle, or even some popular smartphones, can do today.
“Computer updates that require reboots seem to come at the most inconvenient times, which is why we wanted to make our updates as invisible to customers as possible,” said Butler.
Customers can select a regular time they are not using the vehicle—such as the middle of the night for many—to schedule updates when their vehicle is off. The company says that most other updates can be activated in under two minutes, while any updates that may require the vehicle to be parked can be scheduled to take place when customers find it most convenient.
Customers can receive notifications detailing the software updates when they are available and can opt in to have the updates applied automatically over Wi-Fi or cellular connections. In-vehicle alerts will then tell customers what updates were installed when they start the vehicle the next time.