Ford gives Waze a boost

Using Waze inside your Ford vehicle is about to get easier than it’s ever been. Thanks to new integration with Ford SYNC AppLink, Waze users will soon be able to project real-time traffic and navigation information onto Ford’s SYNC 3 touch screen and access the services by voice commands. (Image courtesy of Ford Motor Co.)

Apple iPhone users now will be able to use the Waze app on their car's infotainment screen—at least if they own certain late-model Ford vehicles.

The automaker's latest infotainment system is now compatible with the popular Waze navigation app, the two parties announced Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Unlike existing Android Auto support for Waze, Ford uses its baked-in SmartDevice Link to host Waze directly through the Sync 3 infotainment software fitted to many 2018 model year Ford and Lincoln vehicles. That means that users—sorry, Wazers—aren't device-restricted.

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Ford says that Sync 3-equipped 2018 model year vehicles will be ready to go with Waze. Previous model year Fords with Sync 3 will require an over-the-air update. To use the app, Wazers will only need to connect a smartphone with the app installed to the USB port in a Sync 3-equipped Ford vehicle. Then, Waze will pop up on the infotainment screen.

Ford's Waze integration takes full advantage of Waze including HOV routes, traffic and police alerts, and, crucially, the Talk to Waze function that eliminates the need for drivers to tap out commands while moving.

The Waze integration comes courtesy SmartDevice Link, an interface standardization effort spearheaded by Ford that's now being shared with Toyota, Mazda, Subaru, and other automakers. SmartDevice Link was born to streamline app interfaces as well as to improve security against hackers.

It's also a bid by automakers to reduce Apple and Google's encroachment on in-car tech. Wednesday's announcement is the first sign of life from SmartDevice Link—and it's a big one.

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