The software update, which can be installed via USB, at a dealer, or over the air for cars equipped with Wi-Fi or cellular antennas, means that more Ford owners will have access to the in-dash versions of iOS and Android. Instead of relying on their vehicle's built-in navigation system, which might be outdated, they can project Google Maps onto their car's in-dash display, for instance.
And Android Auto and CarPlay offer many more features besides navigation, from access to streaming music to the ability—via CarPlay only—to talk to Siri, Apple's personal voice assistant. Both platforms work by projecting a modified version of your phone's operating system onto the in-dash display. The icons are bigger, and there's no access to text messages or other features that might distract drivers.
The Android Auto and CarPlay update is the first time that Ford is offering a new software version via Wi-Fi. That means all you have to do to receive it is park your Wi-Fi-equipped car within range of a designated Wi-Fi network—your garage might work, depending on how close it is to your router—and the car will automatically check for and download the update as if it were a smartphone or computer.
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There is one additional, potentially pricey step you'll need to take if you want to use CarPlay, however: Ford says CarPlay support requires a USB hub upgrade from a Ford dealership.
Meanwhile, if you have a Ford vehicle from the 2017 model year, or one of hundreds of other 2017 and 2016 model year cars from other automakers, you've already got Android Auto and CarPlay built in. You can check for your specific model on the Android Auto or CarPlay compatibility lists, which as of Friday afternoon haven't yet been updated to reflect 2016 Fords.
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