Ford releases latest MyFord Touch update
Software update includes improved voice-recognition and touchscreen menu options.
If at first you don’t succeed, try again – and again. That’s what Ford has been doing with its MyFord Touch system.
The tablet-like infotainment interface has been panned by consumers and automotive critics alike, and was blamed for Ford sliding from a fifth-place ranking in 2010 in J.D. Power and Associates’ influential Initial Quality Study to 23rd the following year -- and a drop to 27th place in 2012.
Some of the glitches were addressed with a software update for MyFord Touch as well as the underlying Sync system released early last year. Ford promised the update would deliver simplified graphics, bolder text, faster touch-screen response and improved voice controls and phone compatibility.
But problems remain, which is why Ford is prepping another software update for both systems. The v3.6 software upgrade will address some of the same problems that have plagued the system from the beginning, such as the laggy touchscreen menu and voice-recognition commands.
The previous software update was mailed to customers, who had the option of installing it themselves from a USB drive or having a Ford or Lincoln dealer do it for free. But Ford told MSN Autos that the latest software update is now available to owners of Ford and Lincoln vehicles with the MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch systems via an Internet download.
“We are encouraging owners to download the update online through our newly revamped support.ford.com,” a Ford spokesman said. “The update has been very well received thus far and takes approximately 30 minutes to download.”
From the beginning and continuing with the current software, the MyFord Touch home screen used four color-coded quadrants to access phone, navigation, audio and climate functions. But to dig deeper into the menu of each system required tapping a small tab at the corner of the screen.
The new software will allow tapping anywhere within each quadrant on the home screen – not just on the small tab in the corner – to access additional features. A Ford spokesperson said that this improvement “makes it a more straightforward user interface.”
The voice recognition of the system has been enhanced in several ways, including improved search for street names for navigation, notification when processing commands and an updated "What Can I Say" feature to help users learn commands.
While the software updates are a sign that the system still needs improvement, the automaker has to be given credit for at least allowing such updates – something it has been doing with Sync since the system first launched in 2007. Most other automakers have yet to offer infotainment software updates.
Software updates are common in the tech industry. Even the usually infallible Apple stumbled when it released its Maps app last year – even prompting a public apology letter from CEO Tim Cook saying that the company "fell short." And Apple has since released updates to make it right.
Now we just need more automakers to offer over-the-air software updates, which are even simpler and require less user interaction than a USB stick. While Mercedes-Benz offers this with its mbrace2 system and Audi recently added a parking feature this way, ideally MyFord Touch and other infotainment systems would be updated over the air, and more frequently.
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