After a year of customer gripes about its MyFord Touch car interface, Ford is promising major improvements.
The interface consists of a touch screen displaying navigation, phone, audio and trip data, but has been criticized for slow performance and hard-to-use graphics.
The new interface will launch first on the new 2013 Ford Escape, Flex and Taurus, and will also be sent out to existing customers as a free upgrade.
"We’ve made fonts bolder and we’ve made icons larger when they’re the most important thing. So your phone that’s connected we’re showing the battery strength, we’re showing the signal strength, so the information that you need and really just presenting what’s most important on that home screen," says user interface design engineer Jennifer Brace.
"It really has resulted in a cleaner design, it’s going to be easier for customers to find what they need to find, and the best part is that we’ve been able to increase the speed of the response as well."
The new touch-screen interface features simpler graphics and controls that are easier to use, says Ford. New features include support for tablet devices and Audible.com audiobooks, improved navigation maps and enhanced voice recognition interaction.
Over the last year, Ford's spoken to hundreds of customers about the technology. And while many said they'd bought their vehicles specifically because of the MyFord Touch interface, they weren't all that happy with it once they'd got it.
But graphics have now been simplified, with larger, bolder fonts, low-priority visual content has been removed, and screens now come in a consistent pattern.
"Our goal when designing the upgrade was to simplify the screens and give customers a fast and easy way to get information at any given moment,” says Brace.
"That meant removing buttons, relocating high-use controls closer to the driver’s reach, simplifying tasks and improving font size."
The speed of touch and voice response has been doubled.
Early next year, US owners will be mailed a USB flash drive with the software upgrade for home installation - though they can also visit a dealer if they prefer.