MyFord Touch, the in-car voice-command system
currently available from Ford Motor Company on the 2011 Ford Edge,
significantly flattened the menu structure from its predecessor Sync.
However, figuring out what commands you have access to or where to find
certain functions can be a daunting chore.
I. Dealership Crash Course
Ford is perhaps wisely opting to offer users an in-dealership crash course on
the system, something it perhaps should have done with Sync. While more
tech-savvy users will likely head online to research new commands, or spend
time delving into the menus, less non-technophiles may find the high-tech
Ford also will be hiring in-dealership specialists, who will spend 45 minutes
or more explaining the technology to prospective buyers at the dealership.
Jim Seavitt, owner of Village Ford in Dearborn, in an interview with The Detroit Free
Press, states, "The younger people, and the people who are more
sophisticated love it. The less tech-savvy customers need to come back in
Mr. Seavitt acknowledges that while MyFord Touch streamlines the menus, it can
breed more confusion as the customer is forced to use it to perform everyday
in-car tasks, such as accessing the climate control. States Mr. Seavitt,
"Whereas people can choose to use Sync, they have to use MyFord
II. MyFord Touch? Too Complex?
The news of the new customer training efforts come as the Consumer Reports released
review of the 2011 Ford Edge, stating they could not recommend
it because of the MyFord Touch system. The review call Ford's menu system
complex and distracting to the driver.
Having extensively tested the final version of MyFord Touch at CES 2011
predecessor Sync last year, we have a few thoughts on that.
While we agree with some of the publication's comments, we think it
missed the boat on the biggest issue and complained about some things that
aren't really that big a deal.
First, the Consumer Reports complaints about lack of tactile
feedback are fair -- but only if the customers refuse to use the built in voice
commands. Certain functions like changing the temperature are clearly
better in knob or voice command form than they are in touch screen form, while
driving. But Ford offers full voice command support for these commands.
Further, the menu system, in our experience is hardly "confusing".
You only have to say one keyword to get to any menu you want (such as
climate control), so it's hardly a long process.
Our one big issue with the system is the continued problems with voice command
recognition. During our testing the car we were in was unable to
recognize a Ford employee directing it "Navigation" in an attempt to
enter the menu of the same name. The car thought the employee was saying
"Temperature 90 degrees". Similarly the employee's attempts to
show off the command "I'm hungry!" (which is supposed to bring up
nearby restaurant options) completely failed despite repeated attempts.
Ford is ahead of its competitors in voice recognition (its system at least
recognized the majority of our command attempts), but this remains a big issue.
It is made bigger by some users' lack of technical prowess -- something
Ford's new training may help to partial offset.