Print 34 comment(s) - last by Targon.. on Jan 10 at 8:54 PM

Ford MyTouch climate control screen
All your touch screens are belong to us?

With CES now in full swing, many automakers are loading us up with press releases on their latest tech wares destined for vehicles. We've already told you about Ford's 3 millionth SYNC installation and Tesla Motors is aiming for the fences with a 17" touch screen in its upcoming Model S electric sedan.

However, Consumer Reports is bringing a "cold shower" to the touch screen/touch sensitive button era that seems to be upon us. The publication, which tests vehicles based on a number of different categories, failed to recommend the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers despite the fact that the vehicles feature new styling inside and out, improved ride/handling, better performance, and improved fuel economy.

Instead, Consumer Reports dumped on the two vehicles because of the "overcomplicated MyFord Touch driver-interface system". While the vast array of touch screen controls may appeal to the gadget generation, Consumer Reports isn't having any of it. The publication says that the MyFord Touch system is a distraction while driving, adding:

Those screens are controlled by two steering-wheel-mounted five-way switches not unlike those found on a television remote or cell phone 

If that sounds confusing, it gets worse: The system also recognizes and responds to voice commands. It all adds up to three or four ways to make what should be simple adjustments. None of the options works as well or is as easy to use as old-fashioned knobs and switches, and they can be more time-consuming and distracting to operate. First-time users might find it impossible to comprehend. 

Consumer Reports ends their analysis of MyFord Touch by stating:

We hope Ford returns to using tactile buttons and knobs again. Improving the touch-screen interface would also help.

Ever since the launch of the iPhone, it seems as though the most popular portable devices have moved to a touch-sensitive screens even when they seem like a step back in usability (see iPod nano 6G). Everything from smartphones, to remote controls, to iPads, to all-in-one PCs now use touch screens -- it was only a matter of time before these systems would be integrated into mainstream vehicles to take over a number of secondary controls (and not just GPS/audio systems).

Ford isn't alone, however, when it comes to high-tech user interfaces in vehicles. The aforementioned Tesla Model S will likely have issues of its own when it comes to providing useful tactile feedback to drivers and the Chevrolet Volt does away with many traditional buttons and knobs in favor of touch sensitive controls.

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RE: hate to say it
By mcnabney on 1/4/2011 2:20:12 PM , Rating: 5
What system are you using?

I hit one button on the steering wheel, say the name, then the type (office, mobile, home) and it dials. Five whole seconds and the hands never leave the wheel.

RE: hate to say it
By Souka on 1/4/2011 6:59:25 PM , Rating: 2
With my 5yr old car I just hit a button on the steering wheel and I say something like "call home" or "call work"

It'll repeat the command back to me, "call work" and I say "yes" to dial, "no" to cancel.

Soo complicated.... ;) Maybe I need a 17" touchscreen to make this easier while I drive... NOT!

RE: hate to say it
By mindless1 on 1/8/2011 12:23:24 AM , Rating: 2
You are both missing the point... anything is easy once you learn how, but some things should not require thought that takes away from attention to driving and IMO, cell phone calls are an exception because people should quit making cell phone calls while driving. No matter how great a driver they are, inevitably they aren't as good as they'd be if not on the cell.

RE: hate to say it
By Targon on 1/10/2011 8:44:26 PM , Rating: 2
And you miss the point that voice commands are a better way to control things, rather than reaching over to hit a button or switch. The touch screen makes sense, but as with all things, you shouldn't be trying to learn how to use your car while you are driving, and should learn the touch screen controls while parked.

Since the MyFord Touch system is an OPTION in most models that offer it, those who can't handle the idea of learning something new can simply go with a model that does not have that feature. The 2012 Ford Focus has the MyFord Touch system standard ONLY on the top end Titanium model, and optional for the Focus SEL. If you don't want the MyFord Touch then, go with the SEL.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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