Ford’s research says its customers “love” MyFord Touch -- even though the touch-screen infotainment system has been widely panned by critics like Consumer Reports. In response to those complaints, as well as suggestions from customers and focus groups, Ford has spent the last year crafting what is essentially Version 2.0 of MyFord Touch.
Graydon Reitz, Ford’s director for electrical and electronic systems engineering, calls the new version of the software “a significant improvement.” It’s designed to make MyFord Touch easier to use and more accessible to owners.The software will roll out on the 2013 Ford Escape, Flex, and Taurus, before being made available as a free upgrade to existing MyFord Touch customers.
The on-screen fonts are larger and bolder, and buttons have a slight 3D effect so they more clearly resemble physical controls. The home screen layout has been simplified, with an enlarged clock and a clearer focus on important information. The audio screen was thoroughly revamped, putting radio preset buttons at the bottom-center of the display so they’re in the same place as on traditional radios.
The navigation screen graphics also were overhauled for clearer map displays, better contrast, and to add 3D landmarks. (Ford’s headquarters in Dearborn, for instance, is displayed on the map.) In all, 1000 different “pages” in the MyFord Touch system were reconfigured.
The biggest improvement, though, is that Ford was able to make the touch screen more responsive, claiming it now responds to user input “at least” twice as quickly. When we tested a new version of the system, it reacted almost instantly when we pushed on-screen buttons, whereas the prior system had a big delay between finger pushes and an actual response.
The voice recognition feature is also more accurate and has simpler commands, such as “Find directions to…” A novel feature called Sirius Game Finder helps sports fans find a specific game by saying things like “Tune to Detroit Lions game.”
The changes were all accomplished by tweaking the system’s software, and did not require any changes to its physical hardware. As a result, owners of older cars equipped with MyFord Touch or MyLincoln Touch can upgrade to the newest software for free. Ford will mail owners a USB flash drive and instructions on updating the system’s software. The upgrade process can be completed at home by owners, or they can choose to have it done at a dealership. Ford says this will entail sending “hundreds of thousands” of flash drives to customers.
The new version of MyFord Touch will launch on model-year 2013 vehicles beginning in spring 2012. Ford will send out the USB upgrade kit at about the same time.