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First unveiled last year, the new Ford SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system is due to make its working debut in the US on the 2016 Ford Escape and Fiesta sometime in the summer. Available as an option on both vehicles, the system is also set to go on the 2016 Ford Mustang later in the year.

Featuring all-new hardware and software, the new system – which replaces the relatively new SYNC 2 – is faster and easier to use with enhanced response to driver commands, the automaker says.

Selecting music, making a call or searching for a destination is easier than ever, thanks to the system’s simpler command structure. On-screen complexity has been reduced and control options used most are prioritised. The home screen features three zones – Navigation, Audio and Phone, and tile-like icons dominate, with a quick access function tray along the bottom making it all rather straightforward.

Though optimised for hands-free use, SYNC 3’s all-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 central to SYNC 3.

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Ford’s AppLink has been refined further on this one – the app allows users to connect their smartphone to their vehicle and control compatible apps using voice commands or buttons on the vehicle display screen.

AppLink automatically discovers smartphone apps including Spotify, Pandora, Glympse, NPR One, and displays each app’s unique graphics and branding. Additionally, when connected to an Apple iPhone, SYNC 3 offers seamless integration of Siri Eyes-Free capability.

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.

Unlike the earlier SYNC systems, SYNC 3 now features the ability to update software 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.