By Alisa Priddle
Ford Motor Co. will tap about 1,000 employees to test a software upgrade to MyFordTouch before it rolls out the latest version of the infotainment system on 2013 model vehicles.
Starting this week, employees will receive a USB flash drive with the new software to conduct a month-long beta test of the system that addresses concerns consumers have expressed with the current system.
Ford said the upgrade will make the system simpler, faster and more reliable.
The improved version will debut on the 2013 Ford Escape, Taurus and Flex.
A flash drive will be sent to Ford Explorer, Edge and Focus customers who have MyFordTouch so they can install the upgrade themselves. Or they can go to the dealership.
But first it will be beta tested by managers in southeast Michigan who were chosen at random.
“Employees are a great source for quick feedback, and the best part is that they are eager to help,” said John Schneider, chief engineer, Infotainment, Ford Electronics and Electrical Systems Engineering.
Ford sees a competitive edge with continued evolution of its Sync infotainment system that connects consumers with their cars via smartphones, uses cloud computing and provides voice commands to keep eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
MyLincolnTouch will be a standard feature for the luxury lineup, and the automaker has said it will make MyFordTouch available on 80 percent of Ford brand vehicles by 2014.
The automaker wants to make sure the changes are bug-free before the software goes into production.
“Employees who have been MyFord Touch users since it was first launched will test the new upgrade on employee lease vehicles so they can provide us real-world feedback, helping us polish the final product before it goes to our customers,” Schneider said.
The touch screen has a new look with simpler graphics and controls, phone connectivity and voice commands have been made better, and the system is more compatible with tablet computers and audiobooks.
“Ford has been listening and learning from our customers about their ownership experiences in order to continuously improve it,” Schneider said. “The new upgrade exemplifies the importance of customer feedback and showcases the flexibility and speed we now have by leveraging software to evolve Ford technology.”