The Truth About Cars » MyFord Touch The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 15 Jul 2014 19:22:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » MyFord Touch Ford Leaves Microsoft For BlackBerry In Future SYNC Updates Sun, 23 Feb 2014 07:24:03 +0000

As automakers seek out technology partners for their on-board electronic devices, Ford is leaving Microsoft by the side of the road for a variant of BlackBerry’s QNX-based operating system in future updates to the Blue Oval’s long-suffering SYNC/MyFord Touch infotainment systems.

Road & Track and The Detroit News report the move would bring them in-line with Hyundai, Kia, BMW and Audi, all of whom already use the real-time embedded OS in a wide range of systems beyond infotainment, including driver assistance and active noise control. Chrysler’s UConnect System also uses QNX on its 8.4″ system, and is widely praised for its excellent user experience.

Though BlackBerry, QNX and Ford remain mum on the subject, Ford spokeswoman Susannah Wesley said the automaker would continue to work with Microsoft in spite of the impending move:

Ford works with a variety of partners and suppliers to develop and continuously improve our in-car connectivity systems for customers. We do not discuss details of our work with others for competitive reasons. We are absolutely committed to leading and innovating the smart technologies and in-vehicle connectivity that our customers want and value.

The Blue Oval’s infotainment systems have experienced the lash from Consumer Reports and J.D. Power & Associates as of late due to poor user experience, which also prompted the automaker to replace more of the systems’ touchscreen controls with physical in-car controls.

No word on when the QNX-powered systems will make their debut, though Ford made no mention of Microsoft or QNX during introductions of the 2015 F-150 and Mustang, nor was Microsoft brought up during the automaker’s 2014 CES appearances.

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MyFord Touch Doesn’t Need Buttons Wed, 19 Jun 2013 15:16:31 +0000 Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 10.34.18 AM

I’m slow to embrace technology. When people say this in modern times, it usually means that they only have 274 iPhone apps and they’re still stuck using the iPad 3. But when I say it, I mean that, sitting on my desk as I write this, is an actual bill, being paid with an actual check, in an actual envelope with an actual stamp.

Undoubtedly, many of you are sitting there in awe. At this point, you’ve already decided to share this article with your friends, which probably involves Tweeting it on Spotify or possibly Pinteresting it on Google Plus. But I’m not entirely sure what any of these things are, largely because much of my online correspondence is done through – gasp! – Yahoo Mail.

By now, you’re howling at my stupidity as you simultaneously wonder: What the hell does this have to do with cars? Fortunately, the answer is: a lot.

You see, I recently had three press cars in a row that were equipped with MyFord Touch. For those of you even more behind the times than me, MyFord Touch is an in-car infotainment system that the automotive press is hailing as the actual spawn of Satan. For proof, these are a few excerpts from magazine articles on the subject:

• “MyFord Touch is like cutting your eyeballs with a razor blade, only obviously much worse.” – Motor Trend

• “MyFord Touch is almost as awful as those people who pay bills with checks.” – Popular Mechanics

• “One night, when the Explorer was parked in my driveway, MyFord Touch got out of the car and bit the head off our neighbor’s cat.” – Car & Driver

• “Ladies and gentlemen: we have a new leader.” – Spawn of Satan Monthly

So we all agree MyFord Touch is awful. In fact, I was sort of expecting President Obama to tell Charlie Rose that it’s really MyFord Touch, not the NSA, that’s responsible for all this spying. The press would’ve accepted this verbatim and we could all return to our normal lives, which apparently involve conversing with our friends and the occasional NSA agent.

But here’s the thing: I don’t think MyFord Touch is so bad. Yes, folks: someone whose most-used iPhone app is the calculator finds MyFord Touch to be logical, simple, and responsive. In fact, I’ve now tried MyFord Touch three times, in three different cars, over several weeks, and I’ve discovered that I even like the little sound it makes when you click something.

But as an unemployed writer who subsists on Cheetos, I don’t think Ford is particularly interested in my opinion. And so, after years of angry criticism, they will soon add knobs and buttons back to MyFord Touch, making it easier to use and less distracting. This upsets me, largely because I had just figured out how to use it.

There’s also an entirely different reason it upsets me: Tesla.

Tesla, as you might know, currently uses a screen that is roughly the size of a Bloomberg Terminal, and approximately as complicated. I know this because I am an expert on the Model S, having seen several in traffic.

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 10.35.12 AM

The Model S’s screen is actually considerably worse than Ford’s, because it incorporates every single vehicle function and also the Internet. Even on the MyFordTouchiest Fords, there were still a few controls on the center stack, and by God the Internet was nowhere to be found. But in the Model S, you can’t change even the radio preset without going to the screen, which is annoying because it means you must minimize the porn you’re watching.

But here’s the interesting part: no one bitches about Tesla’s screen. Actually, it’s even worse than that. Our friends at Consumer Reports, who somehow found the time to stop rolling over the Isuzu Trooper to test MyFord Touch, derided the system as being “too much like a computer,” noting that “it works OK statically, but when you’re driving it diverts too much attention away from the road.” They later went on to say “we wouldn’t recommend dealing with the frustrations of MyFord Touch on a daily basis even to an adversary.”

This is all well and good, and it reeks highly of the sort of folks who pay their bills by mail, so I’m in support. But less than six months later, the very same people called the Tesla Model S – home of the screen that was deemed too large to serve as the jumbotron at American Airlines Arena – the “best car ever.” They gave it a 99 out of 100, noting that its only flaw – a one-pointer – was the center-mounted touchscreen. The center-mounted touchscreen that’s half the size of the one they wouldn’t wish on their adversary when it’s mounted in a Ford.

So my question is: how the hell does Tesla get away with it when Ford so clearly can’t? Are Tesla owners simply better equipped to deal with the rigors of operating such a system? Given that many of them are coming out of BMWs, I find that hard to believe.

No, I think it’s that we expect our futuristic Teslas to come with an enormous screen, while we want our good ol’ Fords with good ol’ American buttons. And to that, I must say: come on, people. Get with the times. Now, I have to go mail my bills and buy a CD.

@DougDeMuro operates He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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Ford Revamping MyFord Touch, Adding Buttons Mon, 17 Jun 2013 16:16:29 +0000 Limited_Touch_Close-550x361

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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Is Alan Mullaly to Blame for My Ford Touch’s Problems? Thu, 23 Aug 2012 19:34:17 +0000 Aw Shucks!  - Ford Photo

Much as reviewers and consumers have embraced the products that Ford Motor Co. has introduced under Alan Mullaly’s leadership, as well as embracing Mr. Mullaly’s public image as the most competent auto executive currently in charge of a Detroit based car company, there has been almost uniform criticism outside of FoMoCo for the company’s headfirst plunge into digital infotainment and control.

Hooking up with Microsoft, Ford felt that it was beating the industry to the punch when they first introduced their Sync system, followed by the even more ambitious My Ford Touch interface and a comparable Lincoln branded system. Consumers, with a small c, have expressed frustration with the system, prompting Ford to allocate funds for dealer training on MFT, along with FoMoCo issuing needed software upgrades. “Consumers” with a capital C, as in Consumer Reports, has consistently panned Ford’s infotainment interface, first dinging them on reliability for user frustration with MFT and now saying that the system “stinks”. It’s possible that by trying to be ahead of the industry Ford went a bridge too far. Ironically, that decision might be traced back to the general in charge, everyone’s fair haired boy Al.

It might be a Yogi Berraism, but you can really see a lot just by looking. Bertel Schmitt’s posts on the Chief Engineers in charge of Toyota vehicle programs might give you a clue as to their role and status in Toyota City and the fact that it’s the Chief Engineers who are asked to stand up at new vehicle introductions hammers home the point. When Ford introduced My Ford Touch at the 2010 NAIAS, after the speeches were over journalists and photographers were swarming on the stage looking for quotes and photos. I noticed a young Ford engineer, one of the guys working on the My Ford Touch program. The fact that he was there on stage meant that he’d indeed had a significant role. It must have been a big day for him because his parents were there and I watched as he introduced them to his big boss, Mullaly. Mullaly appears to be a remarkable manager of people. When you talk to folks at Ford there’s a respect and loyalty you sense employees have for their boss. At this year’s NAIAS the Ford presser was held in the round, in Coba Arena, with three camera operators at floor level to cover all the angles. When Mullaly’s part of the event was over and he walked off stage, I saw him stop to thank one of the cameramen and pat him on the shoulder.

When talking to Ralph Gilles, I get the impression that he’d rather that Chrysler be independent of Fiat (it’s nothing he’s said, that’s just my impression) but I also have the feeling that he has a lot of respect for Sergio Marchionne. That’s not a vibe that I get off of GM personnel about Dan Akerson. While GM folks seem ambivalent or indifferent about their boss and while Chrysler folks indeed seem to be loyal to Sergio, at Ford they really, really like their boss. So it made sense when most of the reporters were done with their questions for that young engineer to want to introduce his parents to Mullaly. The parents beamed as Mullaly went on and on about what an important role their son had at Ford. Sure it was PR, but there was genuine enthusiasm in his voice. After that little human scene, I got a chance to ask the Ford CEO a question.

Before running Ford, Mullaly headed the Boeing corporation after first being in charge of their aerospace and defense operations. I asked him to compare the level of technology at Ford to what was used at Boeing, which uses many advanced and sophisticated technologies. Of couse Mullaly used the question as an opportunity to sell My Ford Touch, a main talking point that day. He said that at Boeing he was in charge of the design of the first all digital flight deck. Their job was to take a large amount of information and be able to present it to the pilots in a manner that made their jobs easier and safer, and that’s what Ford was trying to do with My Ford Touch. He may have been blowing smoke but there was, again, a boyish enthusiasm in his voice. I came away from that interaction understanding exactly why Ford has gone all in on MFT – the big boss likes it. He’s an engineer by training who has designed digital cockpits of jet airliners. Of course he’d like a digitally based techie driver infotainment system.

One thing Mr. Mullaly is credited with as a drastic improvement in the corporate culture at the Glass House in Dearborn has been getting rid of the political back-stabbing that resulted from fiefdoms in the company. Decisions since Mullaly took over have seemed to based on reason and logic, with One Ford being the primary example. It would be genuinely ironic, because Alan Mullaly indeed seems to be one of the more competent auto executives in memory, if engineers within Ford are reluctant to criticize My Ford Touch because it’s a pet project of their big boss.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Consumer Reports Slams MyFord Touch Thu, 23 Aug 2012 15:22:09 +0000

Consumer Reports published a scathing critique of the MyFord Touch infotainment system, saying it “stinks” and even worse, is prompting competitors to come out with their own versions of the system.

CR’s critiques of the system largely focus on ergonomics and ease of use. Without physical buttons, MyFord Touch is difficult to use while driving, says the publication – and there are a few TTAC staffers (myself included) who would be inclined to agree. Consumer Reports best summed up the problems behind MyFord Touch with this analogy

Ever consider why video games still use separate controllers with physical buttons, knobs, and joysticks? You never have to take your eyes off the screen, where the bad guys could appear suddenly and shoot you. The same should be true for the view of the road out the windshield while driving. Studies have shown that crashes escalate dramatically the longer drivers take their eyes off the road. We think MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch require far too many glances away from traffic to operate even common functions. And the voice command system is awkward enough that for simple adjustments, most of our drivers don’t use it instead.

While Ford has updated the software to enhance its operation, the lack of any tactile sensation is something that many people have trouble adapting to. Having a car for a week at a time many not be enough for most reviewers, but with CR purchasing their cars outright, and ostensibly spending significant amounts of time behind the wheel, they may have a better-founded grievance.

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Memo To Ford: Expand Use Of Buttons Beyond 2013 F-Series Tue, 05 Jun 2012 18:39:41 +0000

The big news for the 2013 Ford F-Series appears to be the use of buttons, rather than trying to cram MyFord Touch down the gaping maw of every single product in the lineup implementing the MyFord Touch infotainment system. Apparently, it all has to do with work gloves.

Damon Lavrinc, of Wired magazine (and the authority on the nexus between the automotive and tech worlds) spoke to a Ford rep, who said that F-Series customers preferred physical controls over touchscreens, since the capactive controls tend to function poorly when work gloves are involved. Lavrinc went on to note that Ford was wise to stick to the formula that’s made the F-Series the best selling vehicle in American since time immemorial.

My question to Ford is this; construction workers are likely wearing gloves only during certain parts of the day. What about those who live in the snow belt, where for as much as 6 months of the year, motorists are wearing gloves all the time? Aside from the usual drawbacks of MyFord Touch (the distractions, awkward responses etc), having to jockey ones gloves on and off for simple tasks isn’t exactly an example of technology making one’s life easier.

The Wired article also quotes a Ford spokesperson admitting that only 50 percent of Edge and Explorer customers actually like the MyFord Touch system.There is evidently a large number of consumers who aren’t that interested in having to tap and finger-jab their way to a slower fan speed or different radio station, and there are plenty of good alternatives being sold at virtually every other dealership.

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2013 Ford F-Series Super Duty Gets MyFord Touch With Physical Controls Fri, 09 Mar 2012 20:47:31 +0000

Ford’s revised F-Series Super Duty was announced today, and aside from the giant chrome grille, the big news here is a revamped MyFord Touch system – now available with knobs and buttons in addition to the touch screen.

Gone are the haptic controls used on Ford passenger cars with MyFord Touch, replaced by the stack of buttons mounted just below the LCD screen. Ford says that truck owners often wear their work gloves while using the car’s stereo or HVAC controls, and the physical pieces were a necessity. Anyone with a touchscreen smartphone knows that texting with gloves on is generally a non-starter, and the same goes for MyFord Touch. Automotive News reports that only the Super Duty will get physical controls. No other Ford vehicle, not even the F-150, will be available with both MyFord Touch and non-haptic controls.

We’re pretty positive that Ford owners and potential customers who don’t wear work gloves would really like to do away with the current iteration of MyFord Touch and adopt the one used in the Super Duty. Ford has endured a number of complaints from both customers and outlets like Consumer Reports and J.D. Power, who measure vehicle quality and reliability. If anything, the sheer annoyance of using the system would be enough to deter me from getting a higher trim level Ford – and it would be hard to imagine truck buyers getting to enthusiastic about a complicated touch interface when the current setup works just fine.

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Get An All Expense Paid Sync And MyFord Touch Course. At Your Ford Dealer Mon, 07 Feb 2011 12:55:17 +0000

Ford brought two pieces of good news for their dealers at this year’s NADA meeting: The dealers will get more cars. And they will get more cash. But wait, there will be less …

Ford will increase its production targeted at its U.S. dealers by 13 percent this quarter. If the market wants more, Ford will make more. They will even lay on more shifts, says the Wall Street Journal.

What usually makes dealers much happier: Ford will dole out extra spiffs. Ford dealers will get $50 for every vehicle they order with Sync and $75 if they order cars equipped with Sync and MyFord Touch. This “technology allowance” is meant to reimburse the dealers for the extra time it takes to teach customers how to use the in-vehicle technology.

Dealers had been complaining that the new technology eats up their precious time. Automotive News [sub] wrote recently that “delivering a new vehicle used to take a dealer 45 minutes. It now could take up to two hours for some. That’s productivity time lost by the salesperson who could be making another sale instead of teaching a customer three different ways to turn on or adjust the air conditioning.”

So that was the good news. “Later Sunday, Czubay and Jim Farley, Ford’s global marketing chief, told Lincoln dealers that Ford wants to reduce the retail network from 434 showrooms to about 325 in the country’s 130 largest markets,” writes the Freep. There had to be a catch.

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