Clunky, badly designed and poorly performing infotainment systems have caused some of the biggest hits to automakers' quality and reliability rankings over the past few years. Perhaps chief among them was Ford's MyFordTouch, one of the most loathed systems on the market.
Today at an end-of-year event in Dearborn, Ford announced that MyFordTouch is gone in both name and practice. It's replaced by an all-new Blackberry QNX-based system simply called "Sync 3."
Right away, the visual differences between Sync 3 and MyFordTouch are obvious. Gone is the confusing four quadrant screen layout, replaced by a more colorful screen with big icons for all the apps. The colors are brighter and the text is larger.
It reminds me of other systems like Chevrolet MyLink and Chrysler UConnect, the latter of which is probably the best on the market right now.
Ford said their goal is to make Sync 3 faster, more intuitive, easier to use and more responsive to driver commands. The layout now "prioritizes the control options customers use most," rather than treating every function equally as it did before.
They say the touch screen is more like what you'd use on a smartphone or a tablet than before, which is good because that's generally the reference point everyone has these days for touch screens.
Ford also says they've improved voice commands for the new system with the goal of making it as hands-free as possible. In my experience with new cars voice systems are hit or miss, but hopefully this one is better. From Ford:
Voice search results are enhanced by a better understanding of how consumers refer to businesses and points of interest. Drivers don't have to know an exact name. They can search for "Detroit Airport" rather than using the official name "Detroit Metropolitan Airport." With addresses, they can say, "Eleven Twenty-Five Main Street" instead of "One One Two Five Main Street."
And if you use an iPhone, the system now has Siri Eyes-Free capability, so you can engage with Siri when you're driving. (What does it do if you have a Blackberry?) It also now includes over-the-air software updates using Wi-Fi.
It does sound like Ford is working to replace a system generally regarded as a massive pain in the ass. MyFordTouch was clunky, extremely laggy, hard to understand, and in some of my experiences, bad at synching with phones. Even younger, more tech-savvy drivers didn't care for it.
Granted, the system got better over the years. Ford added more buttons to the dash, and software enhancements helped cure some of the lag. The system on the 2015 Lincoln MKC I'm driving at the moment is easily the best version I've dealt with.
Still, customers hated MyFordTouch, and so did critics, none so more than Consumer Reports, who famously put it under the sword back in 2012 and said "we wouldn't recommend dealing with the frustrations of MyFord Touch on a daily basis even to an adversary."
And as Automotive News notes today, Ford went from fifth to 23rd in the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study the year after they introduced MyFordTouch. Ouch.
That story says the name was dumped not because of negative connotations, but because customers in testing simply called it Sync and that is its name in other markets. Sure, okay. (Technically it was always called Ford Sync with MyFord Touch.)
Let's hope it's an improvement. Ford says Sync 3 will be available on 2016 model cars and offered on the entire lineup by the end of 2016.