The march of technology never stops, and that’s just as much true with automotive infotainment as it is smartphones. Ford’s freshly-revealed (and long-awaited) new setup, Sync 4, is proof of that.
One key feature Sync 4 will offer is wireless phone connection. Bluetooth won’t just handle calls anymore; in Sync 4, you won’t need a USB cord to use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto from your smartphone. It will be a cool feature for buyers tempted by vehicles like the new Explorer.
Ford is not the first manufacturer to offer such wireless phone connection. It appears in new BMW vehicles — but with two key differences. First, BMW does not support Android Auto; and second, BMW has turned Apple CarPlay into a subscription plan costing $300 for the vehicle’s life or $80 per year after the first year.
That great technological feat of wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity was BMW’s ostensible justification for charging extra to use it, while virtually every other manufacturer (including far less-premium brands than BMW) offers wired CarPlay for free. Ford, one of those more plebian brands, now provides a more comprehensive service for nothing.
Will Ford’s new service shame BMW into ditching its CarPlay subscription plan? Probably not. BMW can get away with charging for CarPlay, presumably, because its buyers won’t care about a small add-on fee at the point of purchase. Even if buyers notice, a $300 charge likely isn’t a matter that many would buy a different car over. (Taking forever to add CarPlay and Android Auto has not hurt Toyota sales, for instance.) An X3 buyer won’t storm out and buy a Ford Escape instead because of the infotainment.
Unless Mercedes-Benz or Audi starts zinging BMW about the subscription plan in advertisements and drumming up a campaign against it, you can probably expect the subscription plan to stick around — and most BMW customers not to notice, so long as they’re splashing around cash on M-inspired styling features.
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