Memo To Ford: Expand Use Of Buttons Beyond 2013 F-Series

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
memo to ford expand use of buttons beyond 2013 f series

The big news for the 2013 Ford F-Series appears to be the use of buttons, rather than [s]trying to cram MyFord Touch down the gaping maw of every single product in the lineup[/s] 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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  • Mopar4wd Mopar4wd on Jun 05, 2012

    I work for a company that builds industrial control systems but also does some work in the transport sector. Touch screens are everywhere. In the last few years most companies seem to be trying very hard to eliminate physical controls as much as possible. One of the reasons is options. If everycar comes with a touchscreen standard (pretty sure this will be the case in 3-5 years) you won't need to ever change the dash every car has the same screen no matter what options are installed in the car. Just turn on whats installed same control head. It also allows for very cost effective rolling changes of controls thru software. There is also a greater potential for customizing the car for the consumer without changing any hardware. In theory in the future you will buy the car at the dealer and part of the delivery process will be moving controls to different screens for easier access based on your preference.

    • KrisZ KrisZ on Jun 06, 2012

      All the benefits you stated are for the manufacturers only, none of them are for the customer. I have a feeling that once the novelty wears of and the reality sets in, that is that these systems are more troublesome and less intuitive to use, people will start looking for good old fashioned knobs and buttons. The problem will be compounded once people realize that a failed touch screen can make the most basic functions of the car inaccessible. Voice control may be a nice addition to controlling car's functions, but it should not be a primary source. I cannot imagine voice control working well when I have my window cracked open, as I like fresh air during mild weather, or when my kids are laughing or fighting in the back seat. Like someone above already mentioned, if a system has to rely on alternative methods for input in order to function properly, it is a very poorly designed system. That's exactly what touch screens and voice controls are. There are some very nicely designed touch screen controls in aviation, but the cost of those is astronomical, hence we get crappy leftovers that need work arounds.

  • Garak Garak on Jun 06, 2012

    Mechanical switches will become a luxury feature in cars like analog clocks are today. A touchscreen is dirt cheap compared to loads of switches and knobs, and cost has always been the #1 priority for car makers. As an added bonus, people still seem to consider touch controls "futuristic".

    • JMII JMII on Jun 06, 2012

      Bingo! People think touchscreens are cool... then they learn (the hard way) that jumping thru six menus just to change a radio station or adjust the temperature is a pain. Only then do they want their "old school" buttons back again. How soon everyone forgets BMWs dreaded iDrive mess. If fact I bet that is why people think such systems are great: they came out in fancy, expensive cars first but are now available for the masses. The bigger issue is what happens when these things fail in 5 years. A button or switch is easy to test, fix or replace. With a touch screen once it stops working you'll need to swap out the whole unit just to get the A/C to work.

  • BlueBrat BlueBrat on Jun 06, 2012

    We have an Acura MDX as one of our company cars, and it allows you to control the radio with physical controls or the touchscreen. As a lot of other commenters already stated, it's less distracting and simply much easier to use physical buttons and knobs than the touch screen, which in the case of the MDX, is a bit far to reach from my comfortable driving position. Plus I really prefer fast, notchy tuning knobs that you can flick to blow through the tons of XM/Sirius stations.

  • Junebug Junebug on Jun 06, 2012

    KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid, works better every time.