MyFord Touch has taken plenty of flack from both consumers and critics since its release last year. The combination of capacitive controls for the climate control system and a cluttered user interface on the center screen were proof that MyFord Touch was a very one-point-oh product. To be fair, it was obvious that Ford's new system was both very advanced and very powerful, but its cool reception suggests that Ford may have attempted to sprint when it should have jogged following the success of SYNC. The first iteration of MyFord Touch was overly complex and occasionally glitchy, triggering a fair amount of bad press around some of the industry's leading quality indexes. Now, the Dearborn automaker is out to rectify some of the issues with its system for 2013 models – and existing Ford drivers will benefit from the updates as well.

To start, Ford has expanded the features of MyFord Touch to now include Apple iPad connectivity and access to Audible.com audiobooks through voice commands or the touchscreen. A range of improvements are also being implemented for better Bluetooth telephone connectivity, an updated map experience from TeleNav and Navteq, along with new Gracenote album cover art and improved voice recognition powered by Nuance technology.

The most obvious and front-facing updates have come in the form of a reworked interface for the central touchscreen. Ford claims to have significantly enhanced or augmented over 1,000 screens in the MyFord Touch system, using larger, bolder fonts, making the designs more consistent and removing low-priority elements while bringing the most frequently used controls closer to the driver. All that, plus improved touchscreen response time – something Ford heard loud and clear from owners – that's up to two times faster than the outgoing system.

These MyFord Touch enhancements are set to debut early next year on the 2013 models, with updates for existing owners going out around the same time (we've been told MyLincoln Touch will get similar upgrades). Overall, it looks like a solid – if not mind-blowing – update and you can see some before and after shots in the gallery above, along with the full details in the press release below the fold.

UPDATE: Video added after the jump.



Show full PR text
Faster, Simpler, Easier to Use: MyFord Touch Upgrade Provides Customers with Enhanced Driving Experience
  • Ford will launch performance upgrades and new features for MyFord Touch® beginning with 2013 models – no-charge upgrade will be available to existing owners
  • Simpler graphics, faster touch-screen response and easier-to-use controls are among the many enhancements to the voice-activated in-car connectivity system
DEARBORN, Mich., Nov. 7, 2011 – Ford customers said MyFord Touch® could be faster and feature simpler graphics that are easier to use and that's exactly what Ford plans to deliver with a broad set of performance upgrades to the system – launching first on the new 2013 Ford Escape, Flex, and Taurus.

Available early next year – and also offered at no charge to existing MyFord Touch owners – the software upgrade enhances the ownership experience as it was developed by listening and responding to customer feedback.

"SYNC® has clearly been a game-changing technology, and now we're changing the game again, showing how quickly we can deliver more of what customers really want," said Graydon Reitz, director, Ford Global Electronics and Electrical Systems Engineering. "Our strategy to create the SYNC software platform and add the customizable screens of MyFord Touch gives us a level of flexibility and speed to respond to customer input like never before seen in the auto industry."

The new touch-screen interface features new simpler graphics and controls that are easier to use. Customers will also experience significantly faster touch-screen response times, one of the top requests from owners.

New features include support for tablet devices and Audible.com audiobooks, improved navigation maps and enhanced voice recognition interaction.

Listening to customers
Since MyFord launched last fall, Ford has held four customer clinics in which owners talked directly to Ford engineers about their experiences with the new technology. Owner feedback was clear and consistent, revealing that MyFord Touch was a key purchase reason.

A survey of 2011 Ford Edge owners shows that four of the top seven purchase reasons were elements of the MyFord Touch system: the touch-screen, steering wheel controls, voice recognition and interior styling.

While owners reported that they love the system, there were distinct areas where they wanted improvements. Earlier this year, Ford started delivering on their requests, beginning with more instructions and information on how to best utilize the capabilities of the system.

Ford launched two programs modeled after what consumers experience when purchasing a new electronic device. First, the company added a new MyFord Touch owner support website featuring how-to videos at HYPERLINK "http://www.syncmyride.com" www.syncmyride.com. Second, free "SYNC My Ride" personalized training sessions for new owners are now offered through Ford dealers – scheduled at customers' convenience.

"The keys to continuous improvement are simple: Listen, learn and respond. That's how we're going to keep our customers happy," said Gary Jablonski, manager, SYNC Platform Development. "Evolving the software with meaningful enhanced features was part of our plan from the very beginning. It's no different than the experience with our smartphones and laptop computers – except now, it's your car that gets better."

New look
The visual enhancements to MyFord Touch are based on simplifying the graphics with larger, bolder fonts, removing low-priority visual content, and designing screens based on a consistent pattern. More than 1,000 screens in total have been updated with the improved look.

"Our goal when designing the upgrade was to simplify the screens and give customers a fast and easy way to get information at any given moment," said Jennifer Brace, user interface Design engineer for Ford. "That meant removing buttons, relocating high-use controls closer to the driver's reach, simplifying tasks and improving font size."

The new fonts are as much as 40 percent larger on some redesigned screens. The fonts also are wider and bolder to provide easier legibility, particularly among the rapidly increasing number of drivers age 60 and older.

New features
Ford also took the opportunity to update the performance of the system and add new features for customers to help them keep pace with the fast-moving consumer electronics market.

Faster touch-screen response time, for example, was a key request from owners. Initial testing shows that touch and voice response is at least two times faster than the current system.

Also, the software upgrade includes the following enhancements:

Improved voice recognition experience powered by Nuance
Quicker voice recognition upon startup and faster command prompt when the voice button is pushed Voice commands used in conjunction with navigation are simplified through elimination of the need to provide street direction, e.g., "Main Street" instead of "North Main Street"
Music requests are simpler by removing the need to include the additional song, album or artist information often found at the end of a name in (parenthesis) or [brackets]
Customers can find their favorite sports team in action via new Sirius Game Finder simply by saying a command such as "Tune to Detroit Lions game"

Tablet device compatibility
Music and other media content from most popular tablet computers like the Apple iPad can now be accessed through a simple USB connection

Audible.com audiobook support
Listen to Audible.com content using voice commands or the easy-to-use touch-screen controls

Connected navigation powered by TeleNav features new map data by NAVTEQ
Updated map views are richer and feature more 3D landmarks
Views of freeway junctions and signs are enhanced through photorealistic screen images
Smart routing options are provided based on a database of historical traffic patterns

Phone compatibility
Automatic Bluetooth® connection upon vehicle entry has been improved
Noise and echo cancelation during phone calls has been improved to enhance call quality

Gracenote® album cover art database
Inclusion of the latest music metadata available enhancing the music playback experience
Improved voice recognition for music search allowing drivers to pinpoint artists with hard-to-pronounce names or nicknames


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 119 Comments
      Making11s
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have only used the system at auto shows, but I wasn't a fan because it requires me to take my eyes off the road to use it. In their quest to make their infotainment center more like an iPad, they forgot something. When you're using an iPad, you're constantly looking at it. You don't really have to memorize anything because you're always looking at it. In a car, you really shouldn't be looking at the controls. You should be able to reach down, feel something familiar and use it as intended. I found the the MyTouch system provided virtually no tactile feedback, forcing me to look down every time i tried to use the system. Did anyone ever complain about the existence of knobs to control the HVAC and volume? EVER?
        DC Mike
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Making11s
        @Greg: Besides that the system provides more than just AC controls and the radio. It's texting by voice, accessing your music library, accessing Pandora and other apps, weather reports, traffic updates, turn by turn navigation, and on and on and on. I can have access to it all just by asking the system for it. You're being a bit short sighted.
        DC Mike
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Making11s
        When you buy a car with MFT they actually have a person give you a tutorial. The FIRST thing my MFT person taught me was to press the voice command button. To change the temp all you do is press the voice command button on the steering wheel and say "temperature X"... done. No looking anywhere, no looking for a knob... nothing. Learning how to use it isn't brain surgery. After a week It's pretty much second nature for just about all of the commands and controls.
          DC Mike
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DC Mike
          @Greg: You're reaching for straws. Your point is moot. If you're RIDING SHOTGUN it doesn't matter if you look away from the road to use the touchscreen, so why would you even use the voice command in the first place?
          Greg
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DC Mike
          Ever tried using voice commands when someone else is in the car? It doesn't work unless no one is talking, and even then, it's really awkward, especially since you (or the person in shotgun) could just as easily tap a button to do what you want, even in the middle of a conversation. Also, why does something as simple as radio & AC require a dealer to show you how to use it?
          DC Mike
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DC Mike
          After a week I've learned commands that do dozens of things after the single press of a button. A simple knob can never do more than one task. How many times have you gotten into a new car and had to learn where the knobs were? And it took a few days before you could operate all of them without looking, right? Same thing with modern systems however after you learn how to operate it after a few days you have DOZENS of tasks available with just the touch of a button.
          Making11s
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DC Mike
          I don't disagree that it can be learned, but is a week learning a touchscreen and commands better than just turning a knob? Because it sounds like it's about one week less intuitive to the end user.
        Oceanblue78
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Making11s
        You do not have to take your eyes off the road. That is what the stereo controls are for.
      Jason Allen
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sounds good, if a little overdue.
      Rotation
      • 3 Years Ago
      There are over 1,000 screens in MyFord Touch? That sounds like the heart of the problem right there.
      Salvatore Gallace
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm surprised no one has commented yet on the fact that we just got a brief sneak peak at the interior of the 2013 Escape in that video.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Making11s
        • 3 Years Ago
        I've heard that in many cases the systems you're talking about actually hurt resale values.
      Matt Rogers
      • 3 Years Ago
      Thank God. MyFord Touch in our 2011 Ford Edge has been a buggy piece of crap since day 1. I've wasted hours and hours at the dealership waiting for them to do major upgrades, which ultimately just introduce new bugs. For too much attention is being paid to the idea that the system is "complex" or "hard to use". It's not that bad really...not completely awesome, but not bad from a usability perspective. The much bigger problem is the stability and bugginess.
      IS300M
      • 3 Years Ago
      My favorite comment "All that, plus improved touchscreen response time – something Ford heard loud and clear from owners – that's up to two times faster than the outgoing system." Up to means not much faster. Ford needs this system to be ten times faster. Maybe they should have considered simplifying the number of screens from 1000 screens to like 100..... I am not holding my breath.
        Muttons
        • 3 Years Ago
        @IS300M
        1000 screens probably includes stuff like the climate screen with the seat heater set to 2 and the climate screen with the seat heater set to 1. Not really two different screens but counted as such. IMO Ford should never have listed (bragged about) the number of screens and then talked about simplification. I have a car with MFT and don't have to navigate 1000s of screens, trust me. I pretty much use 3 screens regularly, the home, nav and radio screens. there are many other screens but they are menus and such for one-time setup situations. You don't use them hardly at all once you've used them once. I look forward to the improvements but the main issue has always been the speed of the system, not the info or number of screens. How many screens does the average person see on their iphone, apps included? I bet it's similar. But it's the speed of the system that drives its usability. I see improvement in the look of the system but really just want it to be faster. I also love that the seat heaters are available from the home screen now.
      vimish
      • 3 Years Ago
      A keen eye will see the dual a/c cooled seats in the display. Can this be a new option for the 2013 Edge?
        abalasu
        • 3 Years Ago
        @vimish
        i saw that too but i figured that that was just pre-production generic interface not customized to the car
      Mike
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nice, but the videos for the original MFT system looked responsive as well in demo videos. Hopefully this will resolve the issues I have with it in my 2012 Focus.
        Jim
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Mike
        to be fair, those were "simulations." The one in this video is the actual product.
      tipdrip215
      • 3 Years Ago
      So they're offering reflashes to current unhappy owners too?
      brooklynbeans
      • 4 Months Ago

      Has anyone addressed the fact that the airflow is always directed directly onto a passanger or a driver.  Other than closing the A/C off compleatly air flow cannot be directed away from a person say tward the windows or directed up tward the roof. Air flow must when the A/C is on blow onto people


      DC Mike
      • 3 Years Ago
      I just got a Ford last week and I have to say that the MyTouch system is pretty good. But then again I'm not afraid to learn how to use something. Why do the luddites always seem to not understand that you can simply buy the base model of any car if you don't want to deal with touch screens and the "evil black voodoo magic" that makes the car talk?
        xspeedy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DC Mike
        Why don't you as a "luddite" realize that it is optional today and a forced standard tomorrow? Do you think BMWs make iDrive an option anymore? The latest models have it all as standard. Configure me the largest volume F30 without it. I had iDrive w/Nav in my 2007 3er and it was a laggy POS. There have been numerous reports of MFT crashing and becoming unresponsive - after all it is a MS product.
          DC Mike
          • 3 Years Ago
          @xspeedy
          Out of curiosity I just went to the BMW website and configured a 335is with every option available... except iDrive. You can even get bluetooth integration without iDrive. Like I said... You can always not have the option.
          xspeedy
          • 3 Years Ago
          @xspeedy
          @DC Mike, that is an old body type you are checking that has it as an option. Build something that is a body type from the last year or two and all have iDrive. Look at the features and specs for the 5er which is a newer body type. iDrive system with on-board computer and Controller, and 8 programmable memory buttons
        Knox
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DC Mike
        The Base Model: You can't buy the base model because it has a crappy interior; made of plastic rejected by Little Tikes. Try and find a leather interior complimented with satin finished wood and brushed aluminum without a $5k info system. I'm not a Luddite; I don't hate technology. It's just that I already own a smartphone, tablet, laptop, and desktop. That is three that are redundant already. Why should I buy an overpriced, underperforming fourth? Where I am eccentric, though I suspect there may be more like me after perusing the high-end watch market, is in that I'd crank my own window up and down if you would just give me a handle that wasn't made of plastic. And why can't I manually adjust a leather seat....?
          WillieD
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Knox
          It's clearly you don't know anything as MyFordTouch is a $1750 option (in the Explorer, at least, and that gets you more than just MyFordTouch). The interior in the base version is not crappy, clearly you haven't been in one. Even the base model has two color screens in it.
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