Auto Tech: MyFord Touch upgrades automotive technology car culture auto tech
2013 MyFord Touch home screen. Click image to enlarge

Auto Tech: MyFord Touch

Manufacturer’s web site
Ford Motor Company of Canada

By Jim Kerr; photos courtesy Ford

It seems like only yesterday when Ford introduced SYNC on their 2008 vehicles and began a whole new world of driver-to-vehicle interconnectivity. Since that time, there have been many enhancements made, and in 2011, SYNC was combined with touch-screen technology to become MyFord Touch. My comments on the 2011 MyFord Touch system were that it “leaves every other vehicle communications/information system in the dust.”

For those not familiar with MyFord Touch, the information display can be operated with steering wheel controls, the touch of a finger on the screen or 10,000 real language voice commands. It connects to media players and cell phones but also can read incoming text messages to you as you drive and allows you to reply with 15 preset responses, or you can have calls go directly to message storage. The system will automatically call 911 through your cell phone if airbags deploy and the display screen can also show navigation information if a small SD memory card loaded with the Nav program is purchased from the dealer and slipped into the slot in the console.

Auto Tech: MyFord Touch upgrades automotive technology car culture auto tech
2013 MyFord Touch climate control screen. Click image to enlarge

MyFord Touch also has WiFi. Insert a wireless data card into one of the two USB connection slots in the console and the vehicle can receive data just like you would on a home computer connected to the Internet. The driver can access it through the dashboard’s eight-inch touch-screen when the transmission is in park. The vehicle can also become a “hot spot,” where up to five other wireless devices can connect to the same data through a secure password-protected wireless connection. Of course, the system also integrates audio, climate and vehicle information so they can be operated by voice or touch.

With all these capabilities, where do they go from here? Ford has been working with owners of MyFord Touch and has made many enhancements to the system, starting with all 2013 vehicles. What makes this big news is that the upgrades will be offered to all existing MyFord Touch owners free of charge and can be added to their vehicle by plugging in a memory stick supplied by Ford into one of the USB ports on the vehicle.

So what’s new? There is a new look. Responding to customer feedback, system programmers have simplified graphics by making words larger and bolder, moving low-priority information to other screens adding icons and making the buttons look more 3D so it is easier to identify controls. LED indicators have been added to some buttons. When an LED is on, it lets you know there are more submenus when that button is pressed. More than 1,000 display screens now have this new look.

Auto Tech: MyFord Touch upgrades automotive technology car culture auto tech
2013 MyFord Touch navigation screen. Click image to enlarge

System performance has also improved, with faster touch and voice responses, at least twice as fast as before. To select music you can simply say the artist’s name, part of the song name or even the genre of music. If there is more than one choice, it will provide you a short list to select from. Gracenote album cover art has been updated and displays on the touch screen. Devices such as tablet computers and the Apple iPad can now be connected through the USB port and audio books are supported from Audible.com using either voice commands or the touch-screen.

If you are using the navigation system, there is new map data by Navteq, with more 3D landmarks and photorealistic images of freeway junctions and signs. Phone users will be able to connect through the Bluetooth connection faster and call quality has been improved by reducing noise and echo.

There are still more improvements to MyFord Touch, but the first thing you will notice is the increased speed and the intuitive displays. With free upgrades, all MyFord Touch owners will benefit from these improvements. Automotive electronic systems are adding new features at an incredible rate. We can only imagine what the MyFord Touch system could include, and they will probably find a way to incorporate it.