Ford is the latest carmaker to add Siri Eyes Free voice control. The Blue Oval is releasing this feature though a software update for vehicles equipped with Sync and MyFord Touch infotainment systems, going back to the 2011 model year.
The update will cover more than five million vehicles, Ford says. While rival Chevrolet was among the first carmakers to offer Siri Eyes Free, Ford has largely avoided connectivity features keyed to specific smartphone operating systems until now. The Siri Eyes Free software update goes live today.
Siri Eyes Free essentially allows the Apple voice-command system to inhabit a car’s onboard infotainment system. It’s viewed as a plus because it allows users to control certain smartphone functions using the car’s more ergonomic controls. The idea is to keep drivers from picking up their phones while on the move, helping to minimize distraction.
Once drivers sync a compatible iPhone, they can activate Siri by pressing the voice recognition button located on the steering wheel. They can then “talk” to Siri in pretty much the same way they use the generic voice control already offered with Ford infotainment systems. Siri Eyes Free can perform tasks like making calls, setting reminders, checking weather, playing music, sending and reading text messages, and getting directions via Apple Maps.
Ford says the update is compatible with 2011 through 2016 models, which should mean that drivers can add Siri Eyes Free whether they have the older MyFord Touch systems, or the new Sync 3 system that launches for 2016. Sync 3 seeks to remedy many of the criticisms of MyFord Touch, such as laggy screens and unintuitive interfaces.
MyFord Touch was offered on most Ford models, and the carmaker plans to largely replace it as 2016 models roll out. Ford also offers similar systems with its luxury Lincoln division, although the company did not say specifically whether Siri Eyes Free is being added to Lincoln models as part of this update.