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Ford details CarPlay integration with SYNC infotainment system

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Ford CEO Mark Fields on Thursday offered a few more details about plans to integrate Apple's CarPlay into future vehicles, saying that while support is coming, Ford's SYNC infotainment system will be the star of the show.

In an interview at Ford's Palo Alto research center on Thursday, Fields told Re/code his company will support both CarPlay and Google's Android Auto in upcoming SYNC iterations, but only as secondary interfaces to the primary QNX-based system.

Although Ford is already a confirmed CarPlay partner, the automaker has remained mum on how it plans to integrate Apple's in-car platform in future vehicles. After dropping Microsoft and developing a next-generation SYNC product based on BlackBerry's QNX, it stands to reason that Ford is reluctant to give up the dashboard wholesale.

According to CTO Raj Nair, who was also on hand to answer questions, Ford is also taking consumer choice into consideration with its multi-pronged solution.

"We want to make sure you are not pushed into a decision on a $40,000 car based on your $200 smartphone," Nair said.

With a mature infotainment system, Ford is in a good position to cherry pick the best features from CarPlay and Android Auto. For example, Nair said SYNC will allow customers to use Google Maps while streaming music from Sirius satellite radio, a go-to entertainment option offered to North American car buyers.

While protective of its seat at the table, Ford is also experimenting with burgeoning mobile technology. Nair showed off an Apple Watch app to link with and monitor the status of various Ford hybrid and electric vehicles. It took the company's research team only one week to build the app.