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Leave the large touch screens to tablets

It's no secret that Consumer Reports has shown no love for the MyFord Touch infotainment/secondary control system in the latest crop of Ford vehicles. Ford's move to a touchscreen- and touch sensitive button-based system for nearly all secondary controls in the vehicle flies in the face of conventional wisdom where your eyes are supposed to be on the road, so Consumer Reports' concerns are mostly valid.
Consumer Reports writes, "MyFord Touch still frustrates us like few other control systems in any other brand's automobiles. And worse, it is influencing competitors, such as GM, with its Cadillac CUE system." The complaints are numerous, ranging from hard to discern flush capacitive switches, to poor steering wheel controls, to poorly designed center consoles that make using the touch screen difficult. In addition, the touch sensitive buttons can sometimes be too sensitive, registering multiple button presses.

Consumer Reports complains that the recessed screen in the 2013 Ford Escape makes reaching climate/radio controls (which are located at the corners of the screen) difficult to reach [Image Source: Ford]
But "What about the voice commands?” defenders might argue. Well, Consumer Reports states that while voice commands should help alleviate some of the troubles of using the touch screen system, they are just an troublesome crutch in practice for commonly used controls:
The voice commands are helpful for complicated inputs, like entering a destination in the navigation system or choosing a playlist from a phone or an iPod. But using them for basic commands, such as temperature or radio tuning, is time consuming and cumbersome. It feels like a Band-Aid for the car's poorly designed physical controls.
And Consumer Reports even goes so far as to reach out to the gaming audience by invoking the use of physical controls on gaming systems like the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Vita, etc.:
Ever consider why video games still use separate controllers with physical buttons, knobs, and joysticks? You never have to take your eyes off the screen, where the bad guys could appear suddenly and shoot you. The same should be true for the view of the road out the windshield while driving. Studies have shown that crashes escalate dramatically the longer drivers take their eyes off the road. We think MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch require far too many glances away from traffic to operate even common functions. And the voice command system is awkward enough that for simple adjustments, most of our drivers don't use it instead.
Consumer Reports goes on to say that simply calling them "newbs" at MyFord Touch isn't a proper defense for the systems. The publication has tested six vehicles with MyFord Touch (and the MyLincoln Touch) and has logged over 20,000 miles using it, so their drivers are quite familiar with all aspects of the system.

Ford's handsome new 2013 Fusion also comes with MyFord Touch. The Fusion is a volume seller for Ford, so the automaker can't afford big missteps. [Image Source: Ford]
We should also point out that Consumer Reports isn't the only publication to give MyFord Touch two thumbs down. Ford was hammered in the latest 2012 J.D. Power Initial Quality study mostly because of drivers' disdain for MyFord Touch. For tumbled from seventh place in the 2011 study to a 23rd place in the 2012 study.
A representative for Ford reached out to Consumer Reports following the publication of the article with the following statement:
We listen closely and value all feedback on our vehicles - whether it's from customers or third parties. That feedback is used to continuously improve our products and we're seeing results from that commitment. According to a survey of MyFord and MyLincoln Touch owners conducted earlier this year, those who installed the recent software upgrade report a 25 percentage point increase in satisfaction. Also, 71 percent of owners with the new upgrade say they would recommend MyFord or MyLincoln Touch to others.
Ford has issued software updates to address some complaints of MyFord Touch, but they don't address the underlying problem with replacing traditional buttons and knobs that can be easily sought out by feel with an outstretched hand versus a touch screen that requires constant eye contact.

Source: Consumer Reports

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And this is better than a REAL switch ?
By Dr of crap on 8/23/2012 12:32:38 PM , Rating: 2
Yea having a Nav screen is high tech and cool, and then adding other controls is also cool, but how to you arrive at the best way to control everything in a car is with a touch screen?
That you have to look away from the road for a long make the adjustment?

NOT everything thing NEEDS to be controlled by some high tech device or SHOULD be.
Don't do it just because you can and it looks cool!

RE: And this is better than a REAL switch ?
By Motoman on 8/23/2012 1:59:22 PM , Rating: 5
Knobs and buttons are old. Touchscreen is new.

Stupid people believe that everything new must necessarily be better than something old.

This is how we wind up with crap like the ribbon, touchscreen keyboards on phones, and the don't-call-me-Metro-anymore UI on desktops & laptops.

People are stupid.

By theapparition on 8/24/2012 10:05:07 AM , Rating: 2
Not only that, but touchscreens are also cheaper.

All those extra plastic button parts, with springs and other mechanical mechanisms add complexity and cost. A touch screen can be configured multiple ways, even towards the end of the development. There's a lot of advantages for the manufacturer.

But consumers get something that while certainly pretty, and very configurable, is less functional. Of course you'll always get those who swear they can type faster with their thumbs on a touch keyboard then they can on a real keyboard, but they're just fooling themselves.

Physical keys/buttons/knobs will always be more functional, especially when you don't need to look.

By tng on 8/23/2012 3:51:48 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, I bought a used 2004 Accord and found that heater/AC controls are menu driven from the touch screen nav and it is annoying having to drag the screen up everytime I want to turn on the defroster or increase the fan speed.

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