CES 2010: What does MyFord Touch do?

Aside from the clumsy name, MyFord Touch—the newest infotainment system from Ford—is a big advance for in-car entertainment, with three LCD screens, voice recognition, and a host of connectivity features. In fact, MyFord Touch does so many different things, it’s hard to keep track of them all. Here’s what you can expect when the new system debuts on the 2011 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX later this year.

Two USB ports. The USB ports allow passengers to connect to audio devices, a thumb drive with media, or even a keyboard. A driver can also store their preferences for the MyFord settings on a USB stick to transfer to another vehicle.

SD card slot. The SD slot offers an alternative way to load media and also stores the map data for Ford’s upgraded navigation system. In addition to music, owners can view videos and pictures on the system with a USB stick or SD card.

RCA jacks. Those red-yellow-white connectors from the back of your TV are making an appearance on MyFord Touch to connect video game systems, audio devices, or other electronics.

WiFi connectivity. When parked, the vehicle can be connected to a WiFi signal, while a browser in the central eight-inch LCD allows for Web surfing.

WiFi broadcasting. With a broadband data card plugged into one of the USB ports, the vehicle can broadcast a WiFi signal inside the car, allowing up to five devices to connect to the Internet.

RSS feed reader. An RSS aggregator can read news and blogs over the car’s speakers.

iTunes song tagging. When listening to HD radio, drivers can press the “tag” button to store the information about the current song. The next time an iPod is connected, the tagged songs are downloaded and a playlist is created. When the iPod is synced back to iTunes, the songs can be previewed and purchased. Phone-book download with photo support. Once connected via Bluetooth, a mobile phone’s address book can be downloaded complete with photos. Drivers can then scroll through their contacts in 3D carousel style on the eight-inch touch screen. Voice command. A drivers can control most audio functions and select climate functions using voice recognition. Sirius GameFinder also allows a driver to locate a specific sports game by saying “tune to Detroit Lions.”

Text message reading. With a phone that supports the Bluetooth Message Access Profile, drivers can have new incoming text messages read to them. Turn-by-turn directions. Ford will offer two levels of navigation with MyFord Touch. The entry-level system doesn’t provide maps, but does offer turn-by-turn directions while displaying arrows on the screens. A subscription is required for navigation, but a new vehicle purchase includes three years of free service.

Maps with 3D landmarks. The upgraded navigation system uses maps on the eight-inch display and displays key 3D landmarks to help drivers identify their next turn. There’s no upgrade to the MyFord computer; the only difference between the two systems is an SD card with map data. Ford hasn’t announced pricing for the upgrade, but says that it will cost less than $1000. Downloadable destinations with Mapquest. While planning for an upcoming trip, users can send addresses from their computer to their car using Mapquest.

Mobile-phone application support. Owners won’t be able to modify their cars with applications, but MyFord Touch does allow support for the applications carried on cell phones. Using the Ford software development kit, programmers can add code that will allow voice commands and the eight-inch touch screen to control their applications. Ford says this solution is the easiest way to accommodate the wide variety of existing applications. No auxiliary input. Vehicles equipped with MyFord Touch will lose the 3.5-millimeter auxiliary audio input, as music will be sent through a USB port, SD card, or Bluetooth connection. Of course, you can also connect a portable audio device through the RCA jacks with the right cable.

Memory keys. Owners can tie their preferred settings to a particular key so that two drivers sharing a car can jump into the vehicle and always find familiar controls.

Programmable home screen. The main screen of MyFord Touch can default to one of three options. “Smart corners” gives popular options for the four core components: navigation, entertainment, climate, and phone. “Shortcuts” allows the driver to select favorite buttons that appear on the main screen for quick access to the most commonly used functions. “Quiet” shows basic information in the four corners while the majority of the screen is taken up by a driver-selected wallpaper image.

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