Ford's "Power-Up" over-the-air (OTA) updates are hitting 2021 F-150 and Mustang Mach-E vehicles out in the real world. Ford announced this week that over 100,000 of these vehicles have received a Power Up update since the OTA software roll-out started in March, but the biggest changes are yet to come.
This fall, via OTA, Ford will add Alexa Built-in voice command functionality to some of its most popular models. They include the Bronco, Edge, F-150, Mustang Mach-E, and F Series Super Duty, all of which come with the automaker's Sync 4 infotainment system. Ford said the coming update will be the auto industry's "broadest rollout of the embedded Alexa hands-free experience to date," and it will come to 700,000 vehicles in the U.S. and Canada this year, with "millions more" coming in the next few years. Ford said it will build 33 million vehicles with Power-Up OTA software update capability by 2028.
One benefit for compatible vehicle owners, if they enjoy interacting with their car by voice commands, is the addition of a new FordPass skill for Alexa. This feature means drivers can use voice commands to control certain aspects of their vehicles, like remotely starting or stopping the engine and locking and unlocking the doors. Using Alexa in the car can also allow drivers to interact with their smart home devices, find a nearby gas station or restaurant, or play music.
In addition to Alexa Built-in, any F-150 and Mustang Mach-E vehicles that have the equipment necessary for Ford's hands-free advanced driving assistance system, called BlueCruise, will get this functionality turned on with an OTA update late this year. Ford is also going to deliver new Alexa features designed for its commercial vehicle customers.
Ford has been using some version of Alexa with its vehicles since 2017. Other automakers use advanced voice recognition assistants in their vehicles as well. Almost 20 brands interact with Alexa either on-board or through an automaker's official app, and some vehicles have specific Alexa skills.
Many automakers also include either Apple or Google Android compatibility for their infotainment systems. Volvo takes this type of integration to another level in its all-electric C40 Recharge and XC40 Recharge, which is its first car to come with an infotainment system powered by Android. Volvo started working with Google on its next-generation Volvo Cars infotainment system that's based on Android in 2017.
Ford has also recently announced plans to use Google Android technology in its future infotainment systems.