By on June 17, 2013

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Big news out of Dearborn; the Blue Oval will be adding buttons to its MyFord Touch infotainment system, but they won’t be getting rid of the maligned touchscreen system entirely.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Ford will be adding more buttons and knobs as vehicles get refreshed or redesigned, and move away from the near-exclusively touchscreen based interface. While Ford claims that consumers are overwhelmingly happy with the system, the automotive press has been resoundingly negative.

While MFT has improved in the years since it was introduced, it’s far from perfect. Ford has also been forced to add a full suite of tactile controls on versions of the F-Series pickup, as customers wearing work gloves were unable to use the touchscreen controls.

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50 Comments on “Ford Revamping MyFord Touch, Adding Buttons...”


  • avatar
    toxicroach

    The problem isn’t the touch bit. That works. It’s the fact that the system is buggy and I’ve had to reset/wipe/patch or otherwise fix the bloody thing half a dozen time in six months.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      It’s more than buggy, unstable, & slow. CR slammed it for poor logic (it takes more ‘touches’ than traditional systems because everything is in a sort of menu). Safety critics slammed it for lack of tactile feedback & forcing drivers to look away from the road.

      I hate it because in every area except “gee-whiz gadgetry,” it’s inferior to traditional stereos, and “gee-whiz gadgetry” is of no importance to me.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Slightly different topic, but something that bugs the hell out of me is not having a tune/channel changing specific knob, and ford is the biggest perpetrator of this, seeing how you can’t get aftermarket head units that are user friendly, this is something I have to look for from factory.

    I don’t want a damn button!

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      ford is the biggest perpetrator of this, seeing how you can’t get aftermarket head units that are user friendly

      I dunno, the Kenwood (no brand preference – same would be true of a Pioneer or a Sony) in my 2007 F250 is pretty user-friendly…

  • avatar
    ash78

    I didn’t realize some Fords had gone to 100% touch. No matter what anyone says, touchscreens are (objectively) a compromise for real buttons, which in turn are frequently a compromise for dials. Physical dials, knobs, and switches are ergonomically ideal, but obviously take up the most space and have the least flexibility. Maybe we’re just trying to do way too much with our cars if the problems have gotten to this point.

    Give me a couple of DIN-sized units for HVAC and stereo, then a touchscreen above that to handle NAV or other custom settings (or maybe one day, a full complement of OBD diagnostics and custom settings)

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    When Ford discusses their bottom of the barrel JD Power scores, they blame it on their incompetent customers for being unable to come to grips with MFT. Now Ford claims that consumers are overwhelmingly happy with the system? I don’t admire their honesty.

    With the NHTSA still trying to create distracted driving hysteria, Ford product planners are smart to hedge their bets on future user interfaces that can work without multiple pages of menus.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I like MyFordTouch overall. I wish the system in my C-MAX had a more powerful amp and an equalizer. I don’t like how Sirius is handled through 3 separate groups of preset (but you can change stations by voice command as well). I agree there should be OBD-II data through the MFT as well as enhanced economy information. You should be able to track your business miles through MFT. While I’m making a wish list, I’d like to see full integration with Pandora.

    The thing that troubles me about these systems is whether the manufacturer will continue to support them through the functional life of the car. If you have the car for 10 years, entropy sets in. Having a blank 8 inch display will be a lot worse than having a non-working 8 track player.

    For me MFT has been reliable. Cell phone calls get dropped sometimes.
    There’s a thing in the owners manual that says that MFT can be used as a wifi hotspot, but you have to get the internet through your phone, apparently. I don’t see the benefit of having the car as the hotspot rather than the phone itself. Does anyone use the hotspot feature?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “The thing that troubles me about these systems is whether the manufacturer will continue to support them through the functional life of the car.”

      Ford will support the system, at least with replacement Accessory Protocol Interface Modules, for the mandated period of time. As these vehicles age past the 10-15 year old mark, the aftermarket will decide how well they age.

      Since the take rate on MFT is quite high (well over half on many models), I suspect there will be reasonable support in the aftermarket. As the APIMs do tend to be unstable, you will see remanufactured units on shelves the into the future.

      Now, software upgrades for older hardware to support compatibility with newer devices is likely to be slim to nil. With the compatibility issues the system has now with existing device technology, that could be the real downfall of these systems over time unless Ford licences someone to create software upgrades. The software does afterall have part numbers.

      • 0 avatar
        mikedt

        The take rate is misleading since very few people order cars – is it even possible anymore? They shop what’s on the lot and I’m guessing that 80% of the cars on the lot have MFT. If there truly was choice, I wonder how many would rather have mechanical knobs and switches.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Yes you can still order cars, at least from Ford, and that process is actually on the increase. My wife’s boss ordered his Fusion Hybrid and I know a couple others who have ordered their car rather than make a choice between the stripped or loaded to the hilt models that were on the lot.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Yes, it’s possible to order cars. At this point in the product cycle, I’d say the take rate fairly accurately represents consumer wants as the product has been on the market since the 2011 MY. Dealers and the allocation people have had time to adjust orders to meet demands and consumer buying trends have gravitatied to toward the gadgetry. Since then, the take rate on the systems has only increased.

          • 0 avatar
            Conslaw

            I ordered my C-Max. It took about 8 weeks from order to delivery (in March), which was the time period my dealer quoted. Orders this time of year would ordinarily be filled with the next model year. The the C-Max will have an extended 2013 model year. The last I heard was that 2014 would be identical except for some late-arriving color changes.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Many Ford dealerships in the Detroit area want customers, especially A-plan, to order their vehicles. Bill Brown Ford won’t give me a better deal than Jack Demmer Ford unless they want to move a demo or something from last year that they only have. The dealership I go to has never made me put down a deposit either.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          mikedt said: “I wonder how many would rather have mechanical knobs and switches.”

          I think you miss a significant force: customers buy based on what is shiny and new, not one what is best or even what they will like the most.

          People see these screens and think they are cool just like the latest cell phone, and so they buy them. The first time I saw MFT I thought it was cool, but I ‘caviat emptored’ my way straight to some real data and evaluated my real needs and wants. I still think MFT gives the appearance of being cool, but now I know it’s a product I don’t want.

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            This…People that value mechanical knobs and switches would generally be inclined to buy used I would think as they also likely value manual transmissions, diesels, and brown exteriors.

    • 0 avatar
      benders

      Unless you root your smartphone, the carriers will charge you extra for the ability to use your phone as a wifi hotspot. Perhaps the MFT option allows you to work around that.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        iOS6 allows personal hotspot at no extra charge. I use my iPhone 4 as a hotspot for my Nexus 7 all the time. The only caveat of course is your data plan, do you have enough.

        I can’t speak for Android.

        • 0 avatar
          mikedt

          it’s not your iphone that’s allowing the free hotspot, it’s your service provider. I’m guessing you don’t have Verizon or ATT both of which I believe want extra money to allow you to use your phone as a host spot, even though that extra charge won’t include an extra data allotment.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            See my comment below I have Verizon and yes they want to charge extra but the app avoids that extra charge.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Not true for Android there are apps for that, personally I use the free version of FoxFi as I don’t need to use it that often. If you really need it a lot then you’ll have to pony up a few extra bucks for the full version a small one time cost.

        • 0 avatar
          Conslaw

          I upgraded to the paid version of Foxfi, now called PDANet. I don’t use it often, but when I do, it sure comes in handy. It’s not the fastest thing in the world on Virgin Mobile’s slowish 3G network, but for a $100 phone and $35/month all up, I’m not complaining.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Conslaw-

      Have you recently updated to the newest version of MFT for your C-Max? Both my Ford products are now on Gen 3.5. The new versions are great. We drove from Detroit to Columbus and back over the weekend, and MFT worked the whole time, every single time. They’ve modified some of the screens and how information is presented. It makes the system more intuitive and much faster.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    The modern computer desktop screen took over 2 decades of evolution. It would be a mistake for any one operating system maker to throw that all away and introduce something incomprehensibly different. Luckily, no OS maker would be that foolish. (Would they?)

    So too, modern vehicle instrument panels and controls have passed trough a similar and even longer evolution. Just because something radical can be done, doesn’t mean it should be. Introducing systems which induce buyer’s remorse, do not encourage repeat customers.

  • avatar
    Ion

    Now that I have a car with steering wheel mounted controls I hardly use the radio knobs. The redundant controls are only used by my passengers

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I sometimes reach for the volume knob when there’s a tune that must be cranked IMMEDIATELY. But other than that, reaching is for suckers.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Agree somewhat regarding volume / audio tracks, but what about HVAC controls? Clicking thru a menu to adjust the temp or fan speed is insane. The best system is hard buttons surrounding the display unit, however the buttons functionality can change depending on what is displayed on the screen, this way you get the best of both worlds.

      And the aftermarket is already jumping in here, Crutchfield is selling a few systems that offer direct swaps or upgrades:
      http://www.crutchfield.com/Learn/add-a-great-new-stereo-keep-your-sync-system.html

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        In my Charger, I’ll use the touch screen when I have a moment to set the climate control to my planned desired settings. I’ll use the hard buttons and knob on the control panel when all of a sudden it’s too damned hot, or the windscreen suddenly fogs up. It’s the best of both worlds, I really have no complaints with the layout.

      • 0 avatar
        Ion

        But that seems to be the norm now with touch screen navs. The Lexus Es/is a 1st gen tsx, etc if you want to fine tune the hvac or radio controls you have to use the nav. I personally find those systems preferable to the time it took me 10 mins to figure out the buttons on a previous gen accord.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    IMO Infiniti does the whole touch screen button thing better than anyone else.

  • avatar
    ajla

    GM had to do this 22 years ago.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    Ford is mistaken that people “want” this touchscreen crap. Just because people buy cars with it, because nearly all Fords come with MFT off of the dealer lots, doesn’t mean customers would choose to do so if offered the option

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Ford’s consumer data says otherwise. Many people specifically choose certain Ford vehicles because of the system. As previously mentioned, the vehicles can be ordered without MFT, but dealer orders increasingly favor the system. Industry trends also indicate an ever increasing amount of in-car media/connectivity system offerings across all manufacturers.

      So saying that Ford is mistaken and that customers don’t want systems like MFT is like saying Apple is mistaken and their customer’s don’t want iPhones. What Ford customers want is their MFT systems to work correctly.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        My wife will only buy a car with MFT or a similar system. I suspect this is becoming the norm. On any equally equiped model, I would prefer the touch screen as well.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      As mentioned above, I don’t believe consumers actually ‘want’ it, but are fooled by the shiny newness of it. Then, when they see their friends’ shiny new stuff, they want it, too–not because they actually want it, but because their friends have it.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        redav-

        I WANT the touchscreen infotainment system in my car. I don’t often compare car interiors with my neighbors or coworkers. Their spending habits and purchasing decisions do not often influence mine. My wife couldn’t tell you what kind of car any of her friends drive besides “minivan”, “SUV”, or “car”.

        I have MFT in our two vehicles because I think it is better than what it replaced in form and mostly function. Once you have the system set up to your specifications, the wheel mounted buttons, lcd screens on each side of the speedometer, and voice commands replace all the buttons I used to use.

        In my car, the 8″ screen is mostly used as a map, because I love maps. If I don’t have the map active, the home screen is typically the go to. I rarely use the HVAC through the touchscreen. I think that is the weak point of the touchscreen systems. Luckily, both of my cars have knobs and buttons for the heat and A/C.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      In places where there’s an option for “basic system” vs. “system with touchscreens”, the latter sure seems to sell.

      I think you’re wrong – customers “want” it. They might *regret it*, but that’s another matter.

      (Me, I like controls I don’t have to look at to use, and I want an external nav system up higher and more in my field of vision, and a modular, replaceable stereo.

      So I don’t want MFT. But that’s just *me*.)

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Have made a few trips in my friend’s 2013 Explorer and can’t believe how difficult MFT is to use, even from the passenger seat. Am not a Luddite, but ther’s got t obe a better way to do this. Maybe putting some of this stuff on a HUD and use the steering wheel buttons to navigate?

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      On the Explorer, much of the information is on LCD screens on each side of the speedometer and controlled by the steering wheel buttons. What specificially did you find difficult about MFT?

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    This is just a ford problem. Most car companies systems are okay once you get the hang of em. Audi seem fine, BWM i-drive seems to work, Chrysler stuff is okay too. A touch screen is okay (not great) as long as you have buttons or dials for the stuff you need to do right now..

    • 0 avatar
      joeveto3

      The I-drive in my 335 works fine if you ignore the fact it takes 15 steps just to change the bass. My 88 Tracer took 1 step, as did my Dodge Omni. But hey, that’s progress. Right?

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Just returned a CMAX that I rented for the past 6 days and put 1200 miles on it. Really liked it, awesome trip car. First experience with My Touch and I really liked that too. Was prepared to hate it but found it simple to use and no glitches for the week I had it. But the CMAX does have a separate volume knob and tuner buttons along with a separate climate control area. Probably wouldn’t have liked it as much of I had to use it for climate control too. Volume knob very handy.
    Was blown away by the interior and driving experience of the CMAX. Coworker has an R class Mercedes and inside of this was nicer.

  • avatar
    ajla

    What are you folks with new cars even doing with your vehicles that you need so many menus integrated into your infotainment system in the first place?


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