Ford will soon become the first auto maker to provide U.S. cars with full internet capability, through MyFord Touch (MyLincoln Touch for its Lincolns). The new technology will be out starting this fall on its 2011 small SUVs: the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX. In 2011, the 2012 Ford Focus compact will get MyFord Touch and Ford plans to have the technology on 80 percent of its cars within five years.
Whoa, you're saying, just one more dangerous distraction for drivers.
Don't worry. The driver can view web pages only when the car is stopped and in park. Passengers-say kids in the back seat with laptops-can, however, keep their internet access up while the car is moving. And Ford claims the MyFord Touch improved display screens and controls on the steering wheel will be less-not more-distracting to the driver.
MyFord Touch will be an upgrade to the company's SYNC system, developed with Microsoft, which provides voice commands to start songs in your iPod or tp make a Bluetooth call, as anyone who has watched American Idol knows by now.
Here's a closer look:
Internet Access. Mercedes-Benz already offers limited Internet connection here, showing sports scores and stock prices. But these models will be the first sold in the U.S. where you can fully search and display web pages. By plugging in a USB mobile modem, a USB wireless card, or parking at a WiFi hot spot, you've got internet. (Such cards come with monthly service charges for connection--$59.99 for one current Verizon plan, for instance.)
Display Screens. MyTouch will have two 4.2-inch screens on either side of the speedometer. The left one will display traditional vehicle information: for example,the gas gauge plus a hybrid-like reading of current miles per gallon. The right screen will show the status of your Bluetooth phone, your radio, or iPod and the navigation system. Ford says this small screen--seen with a quick glance downward alongside the speedometer--will let the driver use the steering wheel controls or voice commands to make changes without the distraction of having to look at the center screen. But when you feel safe to do so, you can get similar information on the eight-inch navigation touch-screen in the center of the car where the radio and climate control have been traditionally. Color coding (orange for phone, green for navigation) will help drivers spot the desired function at a glance and either tap the screen or give a voice command. Different features will come with different trim levels. The Ford Edge base SE model (starting around $27,000) will have new display screens for climate and other functions, but won't include SYNC. The next-higher SEL (price not yet set) will have SYNC, but not the touch-screen package. The higher-priced Limited and Sport models will have the whole shebang.
New Apps. My Touch will also have apps, including one for Twitter. (Tweets will be read aloud by an automated voice).
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