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Ford answers touchscreen complaints with quick upgrade
When drivers sign a vehicle lease
on a new car, many expect their automobile to become a rolling extension of their high-powered, pocket-sized technology, from tablets to smartphones.
Ford meets that need with MyFord Touch, a touch-screen, voice-operated infotainment system that keeps car leasing
customers connected to their consumer electronics. However, some people criticized the first generation system, complaining of slow reaction times and confusing graphics.
The automaker addressed those concerns this week, releasing a broad set of performance upgrades to systems running on the 2013 Ford Escape, Flex and Taurus.
This free software upgrade enables the new touch-screen interface to handle simpler graphics, streamlined controls and quicker response times. Ford also added support for tablet devices and audiobooks, improved navigation maps and enhanced voice recognition interaction.
"The keys to continuous improvement are simple: Listen, learn and respond," said Gary Jablonski, manager for Ford's SYNC Platform Development. "That's how we're going to keep our customers happy. Evolving the software with meaningful enhanced features was part of our plan from the very beginning. It's no different than the experience with our smartphones and laptop computers - except now, it's your car that gets better."
Ford will also roll out the new software edition to owners of MyFord Touch-equipped vehicles including the 2011 and 2012 models of Ford Explorer and Edge, the 2012 Focus and 2011 and 2012 Lincoln MKX crossovers equipped with the similar MyLincoln Touch system.
Upgrading bugs in vehicle software could have produced a public relations problem, but Ford is using the change to showcase a devotion to its customers.
The problems started in October when quality watchdog magazine Consumer Reports downgraded Ford's reliability rating due to problems with driver complaints about the software. Ford reacted within weeks by releasing the second-generation system that makes it easier to manage information, control features and adjust settings.
"We've listened to our customers and have improved what they love about MyFord Touch," said Kenneth Williams, a Ford systems integration engineer. "In this upgrade, the screens have a cleaner, clearer display. The words on the screens are larger and easier to read, the pressable areas on the screen look more like buttons, and we have made the functions clearer for faster navigation."
The improvements also give drivers more options to control the system, selecting their favorite interface among steering wheel controls, touch screen, buttons or knobs.
A MyFord Touch suite includes two 4.2-inch screens in the instrument cluster and an 8-inch screen in the center stack. The network is all paired with SYNC, Ford's Bluetooth-enabled system for hands-free, voice-activated phone calling and digital music selection.
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