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Ford Dumps Microsoft in Favor of BlackBerry to Power Car Entertainment System

The new infotainment system adds better touch interface and support for Apple's Siri.

Ford

Ford announced the latest version of its in-car entertainment and mapping system today.

Ford

And while it touted all kinds of new features, the carmaker downplayed the really big change that took place — under the hood, if you will. Instead of using Microsoft’s technology, as the two prior versions had, Ford’s latest system, called Sync 3, uses a version of BlackBerry’s QNX operating system.

The change underscores how cars are becoming a key battleground for mobile operating systems. Both Google and Apple have been pitching their own technologies, along with Microsoft and QNX, which is widely used in today’s systems.

Carmakers, on the other hand, have been wary of ceding too much control. As a result, Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay are forced to act as secondary interfaces that take over only when a Google or Apple smartphone is connected.

Microsoft had made much of its partnership with Ford, which dates back to the debut of the first Sync system back in 2007. This post on Microsoft’s site has a lot of the early history of the company’s in-car efforts, which started in the 1990s.

The new QNX-powered system does add more modern features, including a capacitive touchscreen, pinch and zoom gestures, the ability to get software updates over Wi-Fi and support for iPhone owners to use Siri. Among the services it works with are Spotify, iHeartRadio and NPR One.

Bloomberg reported in February that Ford was planning to switch to QNX, but the companies didn’t confirm that at the time.

Asked about the decisions that led to the switch, Ford said in a statement that its “hardware and software decisions were based on identifying the technology that would best meet the expectations for performance by our customers.”

The two companies continue to work together on other areas, with Ford saying that Microsoft remains an important partner and the software maker adding that it is working to use its Azure cloud-based operating system to power a variety of mobile experiences, including connected cars.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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