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Ford Gives up on Turning its Cars Into Smartphones

 Ford MyTouch dashboard is pictured during the Consumer Electronics Show, Friday, Jan. 7, 2011.

Ford MyTouch dashboard is pictured during the Consumer Electronics Show, Friday, Jan. 7, 2011. // Isaac Brekken/AP File Photo

Ford saw a future in which every surface is a touchscreen. But its customers didn’t share in that vision. So the American carmaker is reversing course and adding back knobs and other traditional controls to its dashboard panels.

MyFord Touch, first introduced in 2010, put most of the controls for climate, entertainment, and navigation within a large touchscreen interface. The system also responds to voice commands. Ford said it would “help consumers fall in love with their vehicles again,” but consumers mostly just hated it. “Simple tasks have been made time-consuming and distracting,” concluded Consumer Reports in a typical review. Recent updates to the system were similarly panned.

There’s a line of thought that, as sensors and LCDs become cheaper and more plentiful, more and more surfaces will become interactive screens. Microsoft, which helped develop the MyFord Touch system, is a big proponent of this idea. And, of course, the notion has only been encouraged by the wild success of smartphones and tablets for which the interface is essentially just a touchscreen.

Read more at Quartz

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