Ford Updates MyFord Touch – Streamlines UI, Better Voice, Delivering the Promise

Posted by at 12:02 am on November 7, 2011

Ford will launch performance upgrades and new features for MyFord Touch beginning with 2013 models, first on the new 2013 Ford Escape, Flex and Taurus.  There will also be the no-charge upgrade will be available to existing owners. Ford gave us a preview of this remake of MyFord Touch a few days ago at its HQ. The first thing they really wanted to drive home was the new interface was done from feedback of what current drivers were hoping for when they interviewed them.

The new interface addresses the early user complaints and is both considerably easier to understand as well as more responsive to touch input. Audio, climate control, navigation, and phone calls all have more readily accessible common controls and are less cluttered, and the four are united by a home screen that’s both easier to understand, with better use of icons and easier to read text, and quicker to use for top-level features.  One of the new UI Feature we loved the most is the use of the addition of LEd-style yellow buttons on buttons helps drivers know there are multiple choices.

Tablet Support and Better Bluetooth

MyFord Touch now recognizes music and other content from the iPad and other tablets that can plug in over USB. Users can play Audible books directly through the system, including by using voice commands. Track searching has been given a boost through newer Gracenote data and better searches for unconventional names, and Bluetooth phones now both more seamlessly re-pair on entry as well as minimize outside noise.

Better Voice Input

Working with Nuance, voice recognition has improved by reducing the amount of detail needed for directions,  e.g., “Main Street” instead of “North Main Street.” and music as well. Plus quicker voice recognition upon startup and faster command prompt when the voice button is pushed; Sirius owners can search by voice for sports teams.  e.g. Tune to Detroit Lions game

Better Maps

This is one of the new features that really caught our eye while we were at Dearborn.  The updated NAVTEQ maps offer more 3D and higher-detail highway exits, as well as smart routing based on crowd-sourced  and historical traffic data.  This system is so much nicer than what you get on Google Maps with your Android  iPhone. When speaking to a couple of the NAVTEQ’s people at Ford, they said that 3D landmarks make it easier for those of you who travel more by sight than by directions alone.  They are not over done because NAVTEQ set requirements like the length the landmark has been around and how easier it is to see from all paths.  We hope to be able to show you more on that in the future.

When and Hows of Getting the New System

All of the new improvements will be offered to existing owners of MyFord Touch-equipped vehicles, including the 2011 and 2012 models of Ford Explorer and Edge and the 2012 Focus. Owners of 2011 and 2012 Lincoln MKX crossovers will also receive the upgrade for their MyLincoln Touch systems.

Early next year owners will have the option of upgrading either at the dealership or through a mailed-out USB drive. One thing we would like to see Ford to do is offer a download of the update at www.syncmyride.com, so those of us who want to get get ASAP can do it without waiting on the mail for the USB drive or going to the dealer.

All 2013 cars with the touchscreen interface, launching at the same time, will have the new interface.

Delivering on the Promise of Being a Tech Company

Back in 2007 Ford came to CES and we checked them out because we thought it was a little odd to see them there.  After-all, they do cars, not consumer electronics.  Boy were we wrong and we knew it as soon as we saw SYNC.

Alan Mulally has turned Ford into more than an auto firm. Now they are a company that offers transportation which matches your life style.  Even with that focus change Ford had to deal with this very large fact; the electronic industry changes so quickly and the automobile industry with all it regulation and safety concerns only comes out with a new product every year 99.9% of the time.  So only time would tell us if Ford’s efforts of marrying a cycle time for creating a car with a cycle time of consumer electronics would work.  In other words other could they match the expectations that software industry has set in the mind of the consumer when comes to updates and the support of new devices on older cars already sold.  With this major update to the MyFord Touch/Sync system and offering, for free no less, to owners of autos with past versions shows that Ford does get it.

Now we are sure there will be a time where Ford won’t be able to offer all of it new features to the MyFord Touch/Sync system to past owners due to needing new hardware, etc.  But Ford has shown over the last few years it will grow the system someone drives off the dealer lot today as much as they can to give the auto and system lasting value.

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