2017 Escape coming in May as first Ford vehicle with Apple CarPlay

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Ford on Friday announced a May launch in Canada and the U.S. for the 2017 Escape, its first vehicle to support Apple CarPlay by way of the automaker's Sync 3 platform, based on BlackBerry's QNX.

The Escape, a sport-utility crossover, will simultaneously get support for Android Auto, Ford said. Other high-tech features will include Sync Connect, for remote control functions, and optional "driver-assist" mechanisms that can help with tasks like parking, staying in-lane, or maintaining proper distance from cars while on a highway.

Ford revealed plans to begin supporting CarPlay on all 2017 Sync 3 vehicles in January, but didn't say at the time when the first compatible model — the Escape — would actually go on sale. Owners of some 2016 vehicles with Sync 3 should also be able to use CarPlay through a forthcoming software update.

CarPlay bridges the iPhone interface, letting users control some iOS apps while driving without having to pick up their phone — whether through Siri or a car's dash display.

The technology is now supported by over 100 2016- and 2017-model vehicles from many major car brands, as well as by some aftermarket dash units. It's still missing in many lower-cost vehicles though, and app support has lagged behind. Outside of Apple's own, the only compatible apps include iHeartRadio, MLB At Bat, Spotify, Stitcher, CBS Radio, Overcast, Audiobooks.com, Audible, Pandora, Slacker, VOX, and NPR One.