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Ford Brings Siri Eyes Free to Older MyFord Touch-equipped Vehicles

Do you drive a relatively recent Ford car or truck? If so, your vehicle may soon become a significantly better listener, since Ford has added support for Apple’s Siri Eyes Free technology to MyFord Touch systems for Ford vehicles dating back to model year 2011.

If you’re wondering what Siri Eyes Free is, you wouldn’t be alone, since Apple has promised a variety of car-integration features over the years, but shipped relatively little, while juggling names and features along the way.

Siri Eyes Free lets you control Siri on your iOS device through your car’s in-dash audio system. Apple announced Siri Eyes Free in June 2012, with former Apple executive Scott Forstall saying that the technology could be in vehicles within 11 months. It started shipping in vehicles in 2013, though it has by no means become widespread. Although Siri Eyes Free might seem like older tech, it is just now being added to 2016 models from manufacturers like Subaru and Nissan.

In June 2013, Apple’s Eddy Cue announced a more ambitious system called “iOS in the Car” that encompassed both Siri Eyes Free voice control and an iOS-like interface that lets you use the vehicle’s touchscreen to control your iPhone. In March 2014, that system was renamed to CarPlay, but didn’t appear in an actual car until September 2014, and even then, it was in the $300,000 Ferrari FF that most of us will never see on the road, much less own. Aftermarket CarPlay systems became available from Alpine, Kenwood, and Pioneer relatively quickly, but CarPlay support among mainstream automakers is just now getting off the line with cars like the 2016 Honda Accord and Civic. MacRumors has a comprehensive roundup on CarPlay.

Owners of supported Ford vehicles can download the Siri Eyes Free update from the Ford owner’s site (registration required). Reader Bocaboy tells us that installing the update requires first copying it to a USB thumb drive formatted as MS-DOS (FAT) and partitioned as Master Boot Record — do this in Disk Utility. Plus, he noted that the update process takes 25–30 minutes and the car must be running the entire time.

After the update, you activate Siri on a paired iPhone by pressing a button on your vehicle’s steering wheel. Here’s a video of it in action, but wow, is it a terrible example of using Siri.

MyFord Touch is the second generation of Ford’s Sync entertainment and communication system, introduced in 2007. The third generation of Sync, based on Blackberry’s QNX operating system, has supported Siri Eyes Free since its 2014 debut, but now Ford owners with the second-generation, Microsoft-based MyFord Touch can take advantage of it as well. Unfortunately, there is no Siri Eyes Free update for the first-generation Ford Sync system, also designed by Microsoft. The versioning on these systems is confusing; we hope the Ford owner’s site makes it easy to figure out what you have.

If you have a supported vehicle, let us know how the update goes, and how well Siri Eyes Free works for you — none of our regular contributors have such a car. The voice navigation systems we’ve tried in cars from the likes of Nissan and Subaru have been universally lousy, particularly if you’ve become used to the fluidity of issuing voice commands to Siri on an iOS device. So anything that provides more access to Siri is a good thing, and Ford gets major points for improving the technology experience for owners of older models — hopefully other manufacturers will follow suit.

 

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Comments about Ford Brings Siri Eyes Free to Older MyFord Touch-equipped Vehicles
(Comments are closed.)

Bocaboy  2015-12-05 07:38
I have a 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid that can run this update. I installed it yesterday, and it went easily enough. The only hiccup I ran into was the USB thumb drive I used was not formated with MS-DOS FAT and MBR. That caused my car not to see the update when the drive was plugged into the USB port. Once it was reformatted and the software recopied, it went smoothly. The entire update takes about 25-30 minutes and the car must be running the entire time.

Fords with Sync or MyFordSync have a button on the steering wheel that engages the Ford voice recognition system when pressed. Holding that button down engages Siri. So far, I've found that it works well, although I've only had it for a day. I'm particularly eager to try mapping as asking for directions via Siri is part of the update. I'm pretty confident that the directions requested will not integrate with the built-in GPS system on my Ford, but I'll let everyone know once I've had a chance to fully test it.
Josh Centers  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2015-12-05 17:00
Thanks for the info!
Joe Gudac  2015-12-05 23:26
The installation and update of the Siri Eyes went rather smoothly. Works as advertised. Really like the ability to see who is texting and the Siri reading the text is neat!
J Manseau  2015-12-08 05:35
I have a 2015 Explorer and my update experience was the same as Bocaboy. The actual use of Siri is ok, but it takes a few seconds to engage when holding down the button on the steering wheel. After Siri is engaged, it does work better than either saying "Hey Siri" or using the sync voice commands. Not a bad update, but it's not a great interface either.
Clyde Wildes  2015-12-08 08:59
Installation of the 3.8 update was easy in my 2014 Ford F150 Raptor, although it does take 30 minutes with the engine running. My first attempts to get Siri to work were met with no action. I discovered that I had turned Siri off in Settings, Touch ID & Passcode, Allow Access When Locked. Turning Siri on resolved my issue. Siri Eyes Free works better than the built-in Ford technology in my experience.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2015-12-08 12:52
Man, that's a lot of gas for a digital update. :-)

Thanks for the tip about giving Siri access on the lock screen.