Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Mazda is purging touchscreens from its vehicles (motorauthority.com)
2220 points by meteor333 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 952 comments



Praise to Mazda for making this decision.

As a User Experience Professional, I was never able to grasp the true user's need for touch screens in cars. For years I have been working on product interfaces (not just apps). Many studies I conducted actually told me that people favored analog controls over digital touch screens controls. It gives you tactile feedback, making it accessible for anyone with sense of touch.

> Audi, for instance has said that part of the reason it’s discontinuing its rotary controller is that a touchscreen better supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

This to me is insane reasoning. That is no way user centric. This decision is 100% business driven and has nothing to do with the end user. It basically means they have given up on developing a good branded interface between the driver and the car.

> phones and tablets are familiar, so too should in-vehicle touchscreens.

This too is so weird to me. I get that you want users to recognize an interface. And that it should mimic how you use other things. But at least put them in context.

I hope other brands start following Mazda again for this choice.


> As a User Experience Professional, I was never able to grasp the true user's need for touch screens in cars.

You are viewing the 'need' from the end user perspective. That is likely not the driving force that is causing touch screen proliferation.

The likely driving force that is causing it is the manufacturers BOM costs.

A single, rectangular, touch screen, that can swallow up a bunch of different knobs and buttons and basic displays, is likely cheaper from an overall BOM perspective than the set of knobs and buttons and basic displays (and supporting material (mechanical and wiring) for those knobs/buttons/displays).

And, if two (or more) different car models use the same size rectangular screen, then one single "screen" can be used for plural models (with only software differences) vs. the need for unique moldings/buttons/etc. when providing the physical knobs and buttons on different models.

The touch screen also enables different "accessory classes" even within the same model by a software change vs. a different piece of hardware. Think basic hot/cold/manual blower speed climate control vs. higher end climate control where you set a specific temp and the system picks heat/cool/blower speed. The same single touch screen can provide both the 'basic' and the 'luxury' interface via a software change vs. two different physical control units inserted into the dash.


> The likely driving force that is causing it is the manufacturers BOM costs.

Whilst I think this is part of it's about more than just reducing the BOM. There's a trend to move all interfaces from knobs and switches to touch screens even when money isn't the problem. For example the SpaceX Dragon capsule also takes this approach which you can see from the images below:

https://www.spacex.com/crew-dragon

A heavily vibrating vehicle which needs to be operated quickly and with 100% reliability by a human operator really should not be operated via a proliferation of touch screens and touch buttons as the images above show.

I think current fashions are very much to blame in a lot of cases. A sleek touchscreen operated car in the showroom is a sexier buy than your more traditional button festooned dashboard. Buyer's only get a chance to regret it after they've spent a lot of time with the vehicle.


> I think current fashions are very much to blame in a lot of cases. A sleek touchscreen operated car in the showroom is a sexier buy than your more traditional button festooned dashboard. Buyer's only get a chance to regret it after they've spent a lot of time with the vehicle.

Exactly. Touch screens are pure tech fad in about 50% of use cases at least, with the decision to use them not based on any kind of practical considerations.

However, I'm a little skeptical that the average buyer is going to regret using one. A lot of people seem to get hung up on newer tech == better tech, so they never really seem to look at the newer technology with a critical eye. I often prefer older tech in some cases (e.g. buttons and knows), but my fiancee often doesn't get it and advises me to stop fighting it and go with the trend.


I've been driving my most recent car for 3 years now. I want to go back to analog controls. It sucks. I'm used to it but it still sucks.


Touch screens are not as mature as a button or knob. We know that using a small knob to control a radio works, it is tried and true again and again.

But we also know that replacing the steering wheel with a small knob is a bad idea.

This is because this is a mature technology has that has as many bad implications as good ones.

I guess I’m a way tough screens need to be everywhere since that is how the technology matured and we know where they should not be used.


> A heavily vibrating vehicle which needs to be operated quickly and with 100% reliability by a human operator really should not be operated via a proliferation of touch screens and touch buttons as the images above show.

In fairness to SpaceX, Dragon largely isn't designed to be operated by a human. There's a reason that page calls out stuff like "how warm should the cabin be" as the sort of decisions being made with these touchscreens.


To quote the page linked earlier...

> Crew Dragon will be a fully autonomous spacecraft that can also be monitored & controlled by on board astronauts and SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, CA.


I would be very surprised if Dragon did not include the 21st century equivalent of the Apollo 8-ball, manual translation controller and stick.

NASA is a very conservative organization and if there is a lesson to be learned from past near disasters, is how limited is the foresight of mission planners and how infinitely adaptable are the human astronauts.


It has a stick and a couple buttons for most of the functionality that can be useful to the pilots in case the craft misbehaves. It seems to have rotary input so it can manage rotation and translation.

A lot of the controls in an Apollo were to be used in normal manual operations that are automated (or have no counterpart) in Dragons.


There are a few physical buttons for the few critical functions you might want to trigger in the boost/reentry phase. The rest is either 1 g or microgravity and a touchscreen should not be a problem.

BTW, not surre if they implemented it in the end, but they planned to handle screen blurring due to vibrations by shifting the screen content based on accelerometer data in real time. A rather clever idea IMHO. :)


> they planned to handle screen blurring due to vibrations by shifting the screen content based on accelerometer data in real time

IIRC, Orion does that by timing the screen backlight.

If I had a choice between Orion, Starliner or Dragon, I'd go with the Dragon. The spacesuits are much nicer and if I have to die, I'd rather go with style.


Perhaps I'm missing something but how could the Dragon capsule automation handle something like the emergency that occurred during the Gemini 8 mission? Without manual control by the astronauts it could have turned into a real disaster.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gemini_8#Emergency


Computing and testing has come a long way since the Gemini days. We now have aircraft (particularly military fighters) that are literally uncontrollable without the computers.


Those control systems only work within certain preprogrammed constraints. They are generally incapable of handling unexpected situations outside of the design limits.

Computerized fly by wire systems still depend on a pilot in the loop, especially in the case of a mechanical failure.


So let’s say the airplane gets damaged, and one of the flight controls is no longer available. A legacy airplane would still try to use that surface because it doesn’t know any better. The F-35 digital flight control systems will say, “That surface isn’t doing much for me anymore, so I’m going to have to compensate by using some other things. Maybe I’ll have to move them a little bit more to get the same effect because the pilot still wants to turn left.”

https://www.airspacemag.com/military-aviation/f-35-faces-mos...


Buyer's only get a chance to regret it after they've spent a lot of time with the vehicle.

Several years ago, probably. Now, when their previous car already has a similar touchscreen?


"Oh, I'm sure touchscreens have gotten better"


They likelly had forgotten how it was before


This argument doesn't make a ton of sense to me. It seems like an inconsistent comparison to compare a single touchscreen to many customized knobs/buttons/etc., when you could also compare a single set of knobs/buttons/etc. to different screen sizes across models.

Car companies don't tend to custom-design knobs/buttons/etc. for each model. They tend to reuse the same ones across many models to save on development and manufacturing costs. They also already modularize these knobs and buttons across different "accessory classes". You can probably see this in your own car even, if you see anywhere on your car's center console or dashboard which has plastic caps where it seems like more buttons or knobs belong. Those are likely buttons/knobs for additional functions in optional feature packages.

Also, even for the same screen size across models, you'd still likely need custom bezels since most models are differently sized and thus have different dashboard shapes/sizes within which the screen is mounted.

Especially with how high-resolution touchscreens in cars are becoming in new models, I doubt they're cheaper than a handful of plastic knobs and buttons.

My guess is that it's exactly what they said. It's probably harder from a software perspective to adapt touch-screen-based interfaces like Android Auto and Apple Car Play to physical controls, and those difficulties probably come up over and over as the versions of these interfaces on the phones are constantly being updated, and the car must continue supporting more and more versions at one time.


Especially with how high-resolution touchscreens in cars are becoming in new models, I doubt they're cheaper than a handful of plastic knobs and buttons.

Every modern car is going to have an infotainment system with a screen. A better question would be whether it is cheaper to have a touch version of that screen or to have buttons for the interface. I suspect that touch would be cheaper than buttons.


Especially now the US and Canada requires reversing cameras in all new cars, there has to be a screen in the car; the question then becomes whether it's worthwhile designing a second infotainment system that doesn't require that (somewhat costly) large colour screen for lower end trims in markets where reversing cameras aren't mandatory, and it seems to be that manufacturers think that isn't worth the cost.


I wish they did that in the EU. Reversing cameras are massively useful, especially in vehicles with low visibility such as the Toyota CH-R.


Wouldn't it be better just to make cars with good visibility?


Yes it would. That's why I'd never buy the Toyota CH-R. We have a Civic with bad enough visibility already, thank you.


Really? As much as I like the comfort of the rear radars for big vehicles, I’ve always found the camera a bit useless


As somebody who doesn't own a car anymore but somewhat regularly rents very different kinds of cars, I have to say that reverse parking is massively easier with a camera.

Back when I always used to drive the same car I got used to its dimensions of course, but that just doesn't happen when you merely occasionally drive very different cars.


The sensors are nice, but sensors+camera improve on that by an order of magnitude - you do not see behind your car, no matter how much you think you do. Especially small people aka children are completely hidden from the driver's point of view by the rear of the car - which is exactly in the camera's center of field.


I got a shocking example of this recently. I was towing a trailer behind my vehicle for a 14' boat (the trailer was quite a bit longer than that). I was really surprised that I could not see it AT ALL in my rear view mirror when the boat was not on it. Meaning there is at least 16' behind my vehicle where I cannot see something about 2' tall or shorter.


I LOVE mine... with the guide lines for reversing, I always center into the space as desired... it's easier than pulling in forward even. For times when the neighboring spaces are wonky, it's easier to short shrift the passenger side, aligned with the other car's passenger side, so worst case you have to pull out to let a passenger in.

Also, if every other car parked forward/reverse then the more cramped spaces wouldn't be as difficult. Note, I live in AZ, USA where more than half the cars are full sized or larger vehicles. So parking lots designed for cities with smaller vehicles are particularly difficult.


That's what I thought, but I've rented a couple with camears and they are really useful - the overlays which shows where your wheels will go with your current steering position etc.

The last car I rented had a 360 degree camera which showed a top down picture of the car and surroundings!


Yeah, that's a good point. The question here isn't whether or not to have an infotainment system that integrates with Android Auto and Apple Car Play, it's whether to interface with it via a touch screen or physical input (or both).


I think that's only half true. There are standardized controls but the dash configurations and wiring harnesses are specific to each model and then even for only a few years. So I'm in agreement with the BOM arguement generally. Also it's a marketing selling point. Consumer wants the shiny new thing.


I totally understand the business case for touchscreens in cars. It's all about reducing cost to the business, but this usually comes at the expense of safety, which is a totally unacceptable tradeoff.


That's a rather communist view. The free market allows people to buy cheaper cars at the expense of their safety, what's wrong with that?


Off the top of my head:

* If the design of your car makes you a less safe driver, you are more likely to crash into me.

* The US as a society has committed (surprisingly recently) to providing emergency care to anyone who shows up at a hospital before asking whether they can pay. Car accidents are a sadly common reason for people requiring emergency care. That means that reducing car accidents is a public benefit.

* Modern societies have made the choice in general to require some baseline level of safety from all sorts of products in order to make commerce more efficient. If consumers feel confident that they can (e.g.) buy a random toy off the shelf for their kid without needing to do a bunch of research on whether it contains lead paint or dangerous parts, that reduces friction and increases sales. The same reasoning can apply to car safety features: it's easier to get people to just buy a car if they have a baseline level of confidence that any car they buy is safe to drive.

That's just a few reasons that first came to mind. I've already thought of one or two more that would take a little longer and a little more care to put into words, but I encourage you to think about these questions yourself when they come to mind, too.


I wouldn't consider 1986 particularly recent, regarding the COBRA/Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act particularly recent. Considering that civil rights was still a large issue well into the early 80's. Not that there aren't civil rights issues today, it's mostly that the outrage is much larger than any actual issues persisting.

Consumer protection on the other hand, is quite a bit longer in the tooth. Though did really start after the 50's. I know the original erector sets were particularly bad, as were earlier die cast models, etc.


Poe's Law claims another victim.


A. Please be sarcasm..

B. That's.. not communism.

C. Especially in this case, the safety issue affects everyone else on the road, too. If someone crashes into you while playing with their Apple Play, congrats on enjoying the unregulated free market.

If your kid takes a ride in a friend's dirt cheap car they bought because they're 17 and they get in a wreck, congrats.

If manufacturers can make and sell unsafe cars, they will, and it will drive up the cost of safe cars.

When products as critical as cars unsafe, it costs everyone, even those who don't buy them.


I do indulge in sarcasm on occasion yes ;)


Phew


Are knobs and plastic moldings that expensive though? I'm not sure this is really a driving factor. Touch screens have marketing appeal (at least from the seller's perspective), I have to think having a shiny touch screen on your new Mazda is simply just trying to get more people to purchase a new car and nothing more.


> Are knobs and plastic moldings that expensive though?

If you consider the entire cost, yes. Every BOM item has a huge cost associated with it, and it's price only a small fraction.

Consider that for every item you need to:

* secure supply for the next 10 years or so

* organize purchasing and put it into the supply chain

* design assembly instructions, teach workers how to assemble it

* design and implement testing procedures

* design and implement diagnostics to figure out which specific component has failed

* maintain it and keep it available for your service network for the next 10-15 years

* deal with unexpected failure rates and be ready to re-design in case of problems

* also, every knob is actually not one component, because it needs to be connected to something, which implies wires and connectors (the most problematic components in electronics) and multiples all of the above several times.

Look at it this way and suddenly you really want to minimize the number of individual components and replace them all with a single touchscreen. Especially given that you can then deliver crappy software and the market will bear it, because we have been trained to expect and accept crappy software.

But I do agree that the marketing appeal is there, too, although I think some people are waking up.


> Especially given that you can then deliver crappy software and the market will bear it, because we have been trained to expect and accept crappy software.

I'd put it differently; I'd say we've been trained to expect anything with (user-visible) software to be crappy, and to accept it because we have no alternative.


That's especially true for automotive SW and interfaces, which raise dreck to a whole 'nother level. For a whole lot of reasons, I don't expect to ever buy a car much newer than about 2010 for the rest of my life. Avoiding (ob)noxious systems and interfaces is a large part of that reason.


I’m with you. Im not that old but new cars really have no appeal to me. Will be interesting to see how it goes hanging onto a 2010 for 50 years


Me too.

I enjoy driving a manual ("stick") and distrust auto-braking/lane assist/etc. My car has airbags, ABS and traction control so I'm happy with the safety features.

No way will I buy a car where essential functions are touchscreen operated, or with any phone-home "features".


While I tend to agree that the past decade has seen some arguably unnecessary increases in complexity, the latest safety technology is significantly more advanced than even 10 years ago.

Your list includes "Air Bags, ABS and Traction Control" - this list was fine in the early 90s, but you've missed one of the most life saving innovations in recent modern car history - Electronic/Dynamic Stability Control.

Multiple studies have shown ESC has potential to reduce fatal accidents by a third - this is largely why it was made mandatory on all cars sold in the EU and US since 2011/12. If you own a powerful vehicle, especially a rear wheel drive one, the kind of driver input mess (accidental or intentional) ESC systems can clean up that otherwise has you spinning off the road is pretty amazing.


It has "ESP", I assume that's the same as ESC?


Maybe a new Mazda will be up your alley!


Mazda just moved to the top of my "I would buy an electric car from this manufacturer if I could" list, but they don't seem to be in a hurry to release a product.


There are lots of wires and connectors that come with mechanical controls. Everything need to be certified to make sure you don't have a recall of a million or two vehicles because the air-conditioning dials break after 6 months. All that must be crazy expensive compared to solid state electronics.


No, switches (even good ones), are cheaper than touchscreens that can handle automotive heat and vibration. It hardly matters which you use anymore, since pretty much all control heads are going to be networked onto a CAN bus or the like these days. Touchscreens are a bad idea for cars though, and I applaud Mazda for being the first to try to deliberately kick the damn things back to desks, pockets, and walls, where they belong.


None of this is untrue with touchscreens. They also have wires and connectors and must be certified.


Have you ever seen behind the dashboard of a modern car? It's a monstrous tangle of wiring, with inch-thick cabling bundles and dozens or hundreds of connectors. A touchscreen-centric interface like the Tesla Model 3 could easily save several kilos of cables and connectors. There's a huge amount of labour involved in installing all that wiring and a huge number of opportunities for failure.

I support Mazda's efforts here, but there are compelling commercial and engineering reasons to go in the other direction.


Do tell us all about the huge labor savings Tesla is running away with[1].

It blows my mind away how you can even begin to compare the predicted reliability of a complex touchscreen interface stuffed with active electronics to dumb buttons and wires with a straight face, let alone what fielded production units only a few years in have clearly demonstrated.

[1] https://www.thedrive.com/tech/27989/teslas-screen-saga-shows...


They have 2. One for power and one for data. Usually they're replacing a lot more than 2 buttons/knobs.


> They have 2. One for power and one for data.

I don't think I've ever seen a touch screen with only two wires. For one thing, even power requires two wires, not one. Data for a touch screen typically requires more than one wire as well, especially considering there are two completely distinct types of data a touchscreen must transmit, those being display output and touch input.

Most touch screens I'm aware of have wire connections more like this:

https://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-2-4-color-tft-touchscree...

> Usually they're replacing a lot more than 2 buttons/knobs.

Not usually. Other than the Tesla, most cars retain almost all of their knobs/buttons in addition to the touch screen. In fact, the linked article in the OP says they're basically replacing the touch screen input with a single volume knob that lets you additional tilt and push it. Other cars, like BMW with the iDrive, usually have a single knob that lets you rotate and scroll through menus and push to select. Granted, it's not a simple knob, since it requires multiple degrees of input, but even a plastic knob that allows rotating, tilting, and pushing is probably cheaper than a touch screen when shared across models and mass produced.

I still think the bigger savings is probably the software updates required to constantly support and make your vehicle's physical input compatible with every new update of Android Auto and Apple Car Play, which the auto-makers have no control over and can only ever play catch-up. At least with a touch screen, they know that's where the Android and Apple engineers spend their own time making compatible.

The other place it probably saves is designing and laying out the interior, since it's easier to design an interior with fewer purpose-focused inputs. I'm not sure though if the touch screen would actually be easier though, since it can't be broken up across different small areas, and the entire thing has to be within both reach and active field of view. Especially the screens on top of the dash, since those often are designed to retract, which means the space they retract into needs to be designed around the HVAC and electrical systems between the firewall and dash.

Either way, both of these savings though would be on the design and engineering side, not the bill of materials.


Most touch screens I'm aware of have wire connections more like this [...]

That link is to a toy touchscreen. Are we counting every strand of metal as its own wire now? I think the power and the data cables are each bundles of lots of such strands, and no car manufacturers worry about the individual strands because each cable plugs into the circuit board as a cohesive unit, like: https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/Customized-odm-15-6-i...

(First Google result for "touchscreen alibaba", it's not like this is an obscure, rarely used configuration.)

Either way, both of these savings though would be on the design and engineering side, not the bill of materials.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Those sound like good points to me, but I don't know anything about this stuff.


I do know about this stuff (currently work for one OEM and have worked for 2 others) and you're exactly right.

Something that hasn't even been mentioned is all the meetings, documentation, coordination between people that work on the components that have to interface with each other. That labor is significantly reduced when you offload most of that to the touch screen because some of that interface can now be done by the same person without any meetings. That's not just cost savings, it's also time savings, which is part of why Tesla was able to bring the model 3 to market so fast (fast at least in the car world).

That said, I much prefer tactile controls. I recently moved from a BMW to a Volvo had the BMW had physical controls for most common functions while the Volvo only has a handful of buttons and one knob for volume. It's a pretty good balance, but I do miss a few buttons and more could be done on the touchscreen to ease that longing (such as customizable shortcuts).

Cadillac is starting to go back to more tactile controls because they've learned how terrible it is without any (my wife has a CTS so I completely understand why they're doing it -- it is awful). I hope Audi changes course too.


For one thing, even power requires two wires, not one

The chasis is your second cable.


You still need a wire from the touchscreen to the chassis.


And every single application loaded and installed, software library, SDK and license has to be rolled up into the BOM for every headunit sold/installed.


It seems obvious to me that one team of software engineers doing testing and diagnostics on a piece of software is way cheaper than training and then paying entire factories to do testing and diagnostics on each button and knob. (Not to mention we're talking about like, volume controls. Not exactly the most complicated and expensive kind of software to engineer.)


Not to mention if you screw up the software an update is generally cheap and easy. If your button is messed up you have to pay for a mechanic to tear apart the entire dash.

Of course you need to get the touch screen reliable. A touch screen is more complex than a button, but if we call it the cost of 10 buttons, a touch screen replaces more than 10 buttons...

For common functions separate buttons are better for UX. However the touch screen is cheaper.


I imagine they are that expensive. Even low volume car manufacturers often "borrow" switchgear from mainstream brands to avoid the cost of making custom switches. This is why any reader fortunate enough to afford a modern Aston Martin will find the cabin filled with a lot of Mercedes switchgear, as one example. Go back farther than that and Aston were owned by Ford, which is why mid-2000s Astons are filled with very cheap feeling physical Ford controls from this era. Etc, etc. Parts sharing is critical to affordable production.

Touch screens are staggeringly cheap now, as anyone with a Raspberry Pi and too much free time can attest, and fits virtually any car, as opposed to switch gear design which often requires the rest of the dash to fit with the design of the button or knob too. A screen mounting location is usually just a rectangular hole in a dash.


They may be cheap to create, but the cost of upgrading is incredibly expensive.

It's impossible (without great expense) to add a new physical button to a car as an upgrade. Very easy to push a software update that updates a touch display.


> Are knobs and plastic moldings that expensive though?

Yeah, the molding for any typical single component is tens of thousands of dollars per iteration. A car has a lot of those components, so the fewer the better.


It's not just the up front cost. They can roll out updates and patches to change the functionality too.

Maybe throw in some cheeky DLC to unlock certain features too ;)


I'd like to see a compromise on this. If there's a passenger, they should be able to use a touchscreen. For someone not used to the car, a scroll wheel is going to feel very weird. And obviously safety isn't much of an issue if the passenger is controlling it.

Cars already know whether a passenger is present of course.


Touch screens are awful for operating while you focus elsewhere. I miss touch typing and I sure like adjusting car controls without looking away. What's that, trust driverless cars you say? Never, and the basilisk be damned.


Not to mention that touchscreens rated for passenger vehicles and the extreme environmental changes their interiors go through are not cheap. Look at how many screens Tesla has had to replace in their cars.


It's not that hard to make programmable / re-assignable physical dials and switches to interface in a tactile way with changing software applications.


my old mustang had 10 old fashioned buttons under the screen that i could use to dial a phone number. new jeep has a rectangular thingy that could swallow up everything, but somehow it didn't swallow 10 buttons, so i have to pull up the phone to dial a number while driving.


a thousand times this.

A year or two ago I considered buying another car after I had a fedex semi hit me (turning left from a stop, not dangerous). I drive a 2004 corolla and love toyota, but the guy looked at me like I had grown frog legs when I asked if they had any models without the touchscreen.

It was actually a major decision in me keeping my vehicle. I do NOT like the touchscreen, to me it's a complete no-brainer that it's more dangerous. I sure as shit don't want to be clicking through crap while driving.

When I was in HS I had a friend whose family had a couple of toyota vehicles. One of them was a small orange truck from the 70's I think. That thing looked like absolute crap, but ran beautifully. The only thing that finally killed that vehicle was their son going around a curve too quickly in the rain and rolling it. It's why I decided to buy toyota and I'm 100% happy with it.

But this touchscreen issue is a big enough issue in my mind that I may start researching Mazda. I seriously do not want a damned touchscreen in my car.


The giant but not very useful 11in touchscreen in my 2017 Toyota Prius Prime can just be turned off. No really vital functions live in there, it's mostly the (iffy) GPS and settings like the audio source, which I don't need to change much. Almost all the normal things, like temp, lights, cruise etc. are still accessible via physical controls.


I think the big one for me would be radio and temp. I assume no one in their right mind would put lights or cruise control behind a touch screen, but I could be wrong there.

And maybe part of it is me being set in my old man ways, but I don't want a touch screen for any of that. Probably the only 2 things I can see being useful on that screen are the reverse camera and GPS that talks to you and you can glance at it occasionally.

Anything else should have real controls.


Just brought the 2019 RAV 4 Hybrid a few months ago, but also test drove the Corolla. The US models differ, but I'm pretty sure the UX is pretty consistent.

The A/C on both vehicles is 100% physical controls, no touch screen required, in fact I've yet to see an A/C option on any of the touch screen menus.

Yes, the radio is mostly configured via the touch screen, but skipping stations / tracks and volume are controllable via controls on the steering wheel and a physical volume knob on the dash. We don't have carplay yet, but I think it is in the US, this might make my moot, but my main complaint is that it can be quite delayed in starting to play my itunes. I suspect this is because my phone is the secondary audio device (I usually let my wife pick/control the music), but thats a minor annoyance at most.

Edit: 6.3l/100km 37.3mpg on Hilly -> Urban commute in an SUV :)


I'm a "millennial" (25) and I don't want a touch screen either. Car companies just can't make a phone as well as phone companies do. It's not about if the touch screen can be ignored, I specifically want to not have one, like how I don't want RGB lights on a computer or a Windows key on a keyboard, even if I can just ignore them.


I think Teslas make you use the touchscreen for adjusting the cruise control speed


This is incorrect. In fact you cannot adjust the cruise speed via the touch screen at all.

Apparently this was actually changed in an early software update to the TM3, and cruise initially was engaged via the screen though!

https://interestingengineering.com/tesla-moves-autopilot-con...


You can still adjust the cruise speed via touchscreen. There is a plus/minus on either side of the displayed cruise speed.


Well shit, I never noticed that!


Not on the Model 3, it's a physical knob on the steering wheel.



It is outdated.

You can use the screen as described, but it is much quicker to roll the right steering wheel button up/down to adjust TACC speed. You can also push it left/right to adjust follow distance.

I rarely touch the screen while driving my Model 3 (or while my Model 3 is driving me).


Just something to consider is that Toyota panels do have external controls that allow you to use the panel without the touchscreen.

I have a 2016 Toyota Corolla, and the entertainment system is a touchscreen, but I haven't touched it in years. There are several knobs and buttons located around the screen and on the steering wheel that provide full control over the functions, without needing to physically touch the screen.

Maybe they have changes this in the last 3 years, but at least the 2016 models do have physical controls that are duplicated both on the entertainment panel and the steering wheel.

While there is a touchscreen, you don't need to touch it.


that's good to know


>As a User Experience Professional, I was never able to grasp the true user's need for touch screens in cars.

Before phone integration, I might've agreed with you, or at least had no opinion on the subject.

After watching many car companies, even high-end ones like BMW and Mercedes, fail utterly at producing reasonable phone integration systems or interfaces, though, I'm all-in on CarPlay.

>It basically means they have given up on developing a good branded interface between the driver and the car.

Correct. They have given up, and it's good that they have, because they've all proven they absolutely suck at it. In the meantime, Apple and Google (?) have done it for them, at least as far as the phone goes.

(I assume the Android equivalent is equally good; no reason it shouldn't be.)

>This to me is insane reasoning. That is no way user centric.

I think it really IS, though.

CarPlay is amazingly good, and only really works well with a touchscreen.

At this point, it would be very hard for me to buy a car that didn't have CarPlay integration with a touchscreen. I've seen implementations without touch, and they're much, much less useful.

I do agree, though, that touchscreens beyond phone interfaces should be used very sparingly. The Tesla's all-touchscreen situation in particular seems like a terrible idea. Most of us are used to being able to adjust the AC without looking, and that's only possible because there are physical controls we can feel.

But the phone interface is distinct from that, and needs to be a touchscreen. When it's not, or when it's not present, people just pick up their phones and use them, which is worse.


> CarPlay is amazingly good

As someone who recently rode in a car with CarPlay and saw two young technology professionals try to use it, I disagree. One of them owned the system and drove it every day it still didn't seem like either one really understood it ("Why's it doing that?" "Maybe because ...").

I agree that all the built-in systems I've seen are terrible, but CarPlay seems like merely the "least bad" implementation at this point. If that's as good as we can do, I'd say we're still in the "research project" phase.

Nobody riding in my (ancient) car has ever had trouble finding the big red/blue knob to change the temperature, or understanding "Here's my 2006 iPod if you want music, or unplug it and plug in your phone if you want". This is a solved problem.


>One of them owned the system and drove it every day it still didn't seem like either one really understood it

Is it possible your friends are dumb? Because my 79 year old mother doesn't have an issue with CarPlay. The only potentially confusing thing is that it becomes your phone screen, and things you do on the phone influence what's on the CP screen.

The possible confusing-one-time scenario would be, say, driver using AppleMaps to navigate somewhere, and passenger using phone to look up the capital of Nebraska or whatever. When passenger pushes the home button to go to the browser, CarPlay will exit navigation and show ITS home screen, too.

Nav is still happening; you just have to switch back to it, just as you would on the phone.

And, again, this should really only be surprising once.

>Nobody riding in my (ancient) car has ever had trouble finding the big red/blue knob to change the temperature, or understanding "Here's my 2006 iPod if you want music, or unplug it and plug in your phone if you want". This is a solved problem.

CarPlay makes no effort to provide anything other than phone integration, so your climate control knob is safe.

Throwing shade on CarPlay by saying the problem was solved with an aux cable is pretty laughable, honestly. Sure, you could fiddle with your phone and play music, but there's no access to nav, no access to voice controls, and you have to grabble with your phone to change anything. CarPlay provides a large screen in a static location that simplifies the music approach, plus gives you access to other functions.

This is materially better than an aux cable.


Carplay would just be for music, navigation, and phone calls. It is only replacing the infotainment system. You should still have buttons or knobs or sliders for the AC/heat, cruise control, defrost, window heaters, seat heat, seat A/C, traction control, and anything else.


I just had my first experience with CarPlay this weekend and it was not positive.

What I want? An empty shelf just to the right of the steering wheel where I can charge my phone and connect it to car audio. I don't want to hand-off my navigation or music selection to the vehicle, just allow me to put my phone in a prominent visible location.


I'm a huge fan of Carplay. Instead of having to listen to FM radio or fiddle with a phone screen on a silly dashboard sticker things, I get a massive screen with my phone on it. I can listen to podcasts and Spotify, follow Waze, dictate messages, all without fiddling


Maybe I don't switch back and forth between stuff while I'm driving as much as you do? I set everything up before I need to focus on the road, and then I just drive. If I need to change to a different playlist, or switch from music to the news, I pull over, make the switch, then start driving again.

If CarPlay makes it more tempting or productive for me to do non-driving things while I am driving, then it is not a good driving UX.


If you have a smartphone, it can be tempting or "productive" (the air quotes are probably reasonable!) to do non-driving things while you're driving, if you're the sort of person who's tempted to do that when you have a smartphone available. I think this is largely orthogonal to whether or not you have CarPlay.

I'm guilty of being that sort of person occasionally. I've found that having CarPlay in my new car reduces the temptation to do "non-driving things," because the things that I do that are related to driving -- navigation apps, streaming music, and for me, playing podcasts -- become easier to do with CarPlay's UX than with just using the phone in a holder like I did in my last car. The screen in my car is much bigger, the touch targets are bigger, the UI is simplified, the design encourages me to use voice input. (In your example of changing to a different playlist, I can just press the Siri button -- which perhaps amusingly in this discussion, is a physical button on my Insight's steering wheel! -- and say "Play [name of playlist].")


>If I need to change to a different playlist, or switch from music to the news, I pull over, make the switch, then start driving again.

I'm pretty sure that puts you somewhere near the top 0.0000001% of cautious drivers.


It's generally illegal to pull over on an interstate highway unless you have a true emergency. Pulling over in traffic, and then accelerating and merging again (in the absence of an actual acceleration lane as with on/off ramps) is dangerous.


Yes. In this case, if changing my audio source right at that time is that important, I'll get off on an exit. But I don't think that has ever happened to me.


Once you get used to Waze on the big screen, you'd never want anything else.


I would like it if all cars had some kind of standard phone mount connector. Then you buy a holder for your particular phone and there's already power/audio/whatever/wired in.


Are you sure you are talking about CarPlay? I could understand Android Auto to an extant -- it can be slightly confusing to the uninitiated, but CarPlay is just about as simple as you get -- at least in my experience.

(Please do not start a iOS vs Android battle over this comment -- this is simply my experience -- I use both on a daily basis -- your mileage may vary)


Why is carplay even a thing?

Geez, can't people stop fiddling with their phones?

They've become like a kind of soother, a techno nanny that people can't do without.

The sooner people put those things down, the better off we'll be.


So you can use your preferred maps app in your car, so you can choose music using your favorite music app, so you can send and receive text messages without taking your eyes off the road. Without it, people would just be looking at their phones anyways.

Guess we should go back to paper maps and listening to AM radio.


> so you can send and receive text messages

How about not reading messages while you're driving? And why do you have to write messages while in traffic? Can't this wait?


The whole point is that you are neither reading or writing them, they are read _to_ you, and you dictate messages if you feel the need to reply while driving, but both can be done with hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. I suppose it is up for debate whether just the act of listening or speaking is distracting enough to be considered a bad thing.


It's not up for debate; we have evidence that it's dangerous. The NHTSA says:

"The available research indicates that cell phone use while driving, whether it is a hands-free or hand-held device, degrades a driver’s performance. The driver is more likely to miss key visual and audio cues needed to avoid a crash. Hand-held devices may be slightly worse, but hands-free devices are not risk-free."

Though it doesn't link to any studies and I'm too lazy to go searching, so if you want a primary source you'll have to find it yourself...

https://one.nhtsa.gov/Driving-Safety/Distracted/Policy-State...


>It's not up for debate; we have evidence that it's dangerous.

Just like talking to other people in the car or doing anything else other than driving. I know that I will take a driver getting their messages read out to them over a driver who takes their eyes off the road and glances at the phone. Good is the enemy of the perfect, and I would rather take an attainable good over an unattainable perfect.


... perfect is the enemy of good


Thanks for correcting, I actually appreciate it, no sarcasm. I mentioned it before in one of my HN comments on a thread about language learning, but as a non-native english speaker, it helps me a lot when people correct my mistakes. No matter how small or insignificant the mistakes are, because little by little, they add up.


> Just like talking to other people in the car

No that's not true, talking to other people int he car is not associated with reduced safety.

Probably because the other people in the car are also partially watching the road.



Exactly. If I am in the passenger seat talking to the driver, I know when to shut up and let them drive. If I am on the phone talking to a driver, there is no indication of them, say, approaching a difficult merge.


Too bad. People are going to do it anyway, and yes, they want touchscreens to make it happen, not just voice.

Mazda will walk this decision back as soon as they realize how much money it will cost them... which is a lot.


It is. Car conversations are a serious issue with respect to distracted driving. I personally can't handle thinking about driving safely and thinking about a conversation. Humans are famously bad at multi-tasking and I don't see how being in a car gives us magical powers.

I thought I had read a study about talking to people in your car versus drinking, but here's a similar one with talking on a phone versus being drunk: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/16884056/


If I'm speaking with someone in the car and I detect a potentially dangerous situation, I immediately stop talking to focus.

It's hard to explain, but I would say my attention is unfocused and broad. I don't know if this is ultimately safe, but I've never had an issue with it.


In fact the passenger will also detect the potentially dangerous situation and stop taking focus from you. The person in the phone will not, and may continue to distract you involuntarily.


A coworker once told me that that is what makes the difference, based on some study. I immediately believed it because it seemed so reasonable, so not citation...


Part of the whole problem with distracted driving is that danger is difficult to predict.


I've never had a problem with it, but I also don't look at them while driving, and so forth. Maybe I'm the drunk driver who thinks he can totally drive better when he's drunk, but I've been driving 20+ years and never had an issue.

OTOH, I also evaluate and will not talk if I don't feel comfortable (poor road conditions, etc).


You're not reading them with CarPlay or Android Auto. The car reads them to you. Also, speech to text writes them. There's no keyboard.


This will probably not endear me to the general readerhip, but if it would be up to me.

People caught while texting during driving:

First time offense: Massive fine and three month licence revocation

Second offense: Permanent license revocation. Because you just have proven beyond a doubt that you're either too dumb or too reckless to be allowed to operate deadly machinery.

Phoning while driving is dangerous. Texting while driving is just outrageously stupid and grossly negligent


He didn't use the words reading and writing...


you don't read them -- they're read to you.


> So you can use your preferred maps app in your car, so you can choose music using your favorite music app,

Get a dock for your phone and use bluetooth for the audio. (Or line-in, except headphone jacks keep disappearing...)

> so you can send and receive text messages without taking your eyes off the road.

Holy fuck no. Don't encourage this. Taking your eyes off the road is only one symptom of the problem. The problem is splitting your attention.

There's a TV show where they demonstrate this most years, Canada's Worst Driver. The challenge is to drive in a circle on a track. Talking on the phone - not ever looking away from the road - is enough to start veering off the track.


> Guess we should go back to paper maps

Knowing where you’re going before you take off is generally a good idea. A paper map may not be the solution—pulling up an online map and figuring out your route before getting in your vehicle is one way and what I tend to do.

I routinely see locals plug local destinations into their navigator-of-choice, though, so expecting people to know the lay of the land these days may be a bridge too far. God forbid there is construction or an accident and you have to improvise!


[flagged]


You're wasting your lives people!

The fact that some just want some directions to where they're going, and to listen to some music along the way, hardly represents the downfall of civilization. I'll give you credit for avoiding the temptation to break out the ol' "wake up, sheeple!", though.


> The fact that some just want some directions to where they're going, and to listen to some music along the way, hardly represents the downfall of civilization.

Yeah, but on the directions front, it does represent a big loss in self efficacy. I don't rely on GPS, even when travelling to foreign countries.

I know people who don't even know the cities they live in. They are living in the phone's world itself, you could say.


On the other hand, the security of a smartphone with maps that cover the world have opened up self-guided international travel to people that may have otherwise limited themselves to guided tours.

I just took a sibling on her first non-guided international trip a couple years ago -- her fear was always getting lost in a strange city, but when she found out how easily her cell phone would help her navigate the city streets and transit systems, she's been on two trips on her own since then and enjoys the freedom of being able to explore on her own with much less worry of getting lost.

Of course, she could lose or break her phone, but then she's no worse off them if she lost a paper map, she'd have to ask for directions, take a cab, or find a new map, but the cell phone gives her the freedom to explore at her own pace.


10 years ago we still had in-car GPS's, but instead of being an app it was a standalone device, I don't see how that makes anything better.

Having my car read a SMS from my wife reminding me to pick up eggs from the store on the way home hardly seems like being a zombie.

We survived without a lot of things we have now that we didn't have 10, or even 100 years ago, but that doesn't mean we were better off without them.


I remember driving before GPS: there was tons of time and gasoline wasted driving in circles looking for things, getting lost, pulling over and trying to make sense of a paper map that doesn't have that much resolution, asking people for directions and getting useless and wrong directions, etc. It was a total pain in the ass.

I also remember life before cellphones. You couldn't communicate with people when you were en-route, so you didn't find out until you got there that something was canceled, or you needed to get something on the way, or were meeting somewhere else, etc. So again, lots of wasted time and gas.

I'm surprised people with this luddite mentality don't tell us that we should all just go back to writing letters, because things were so great back before we could have real-time conversations over a long distance...


I don't think people are arguing that cell phones and technology is bad, just cautioning for moderation.


I don't think people are arguing that cell phones and technology is bad, just cautioning for moderation.

Some people are:

I'd argue that life is worse since smartphones were invented, on many axes.

and:

Now almost everyone has been turned into a phone zombie. You're wasting your lives people!


Yeah that's me quoted above, and yes arguing against smartphones.

I believe smartphones are a net loss to people's happiness.

All of these liberating technologies are fun for the early adopters, but then become oppressive once you are expected to have them. We are quickly reaching that point.

What they really are are surveillance transponders that we carry around voluntarily.


The privacy issues are real, but you're only a slave to the device if you want to be (or you let others force you to be).

Where you see oppression, I see convenience.

If I'm on vacation and forgot to turn the thermostat down before leaving, I can use an app on my phone to do so remotely.

If there's a cold spell and the furnace fails, that same app will notify me when the house gets too cold so I can find someone to go check on it.

My wife can add (or remove) items to the shopping list while I'm already at the store.

When I'm at the doctor and want to confirm what drug I'm taking, I can bring up my online account from the pharmacy.

When I'm on the bus home and watch to finish reading the book I was reading at home on my eReader, I can bring up that book on the app on my phone -- and it will start up on the page where I stopped reading last night.

I do have my work email delivered to my phone, but I turned notifications off -- I only see a work email if I intentionally look for it.

I do have a notification app from work installed on my phone that can notify me 24 hours a day when I'm on call, but even that is more convenient from when I carried a pager and only got a numeric page so I couldn't tell whether or not it was something that had to be dealt with immediately or could wait until I got home later -- I'd have to dial-in to find out (and I had to literally dial-in on a physical phone line since in those days my phone wasn't a hotspot that can give me internet access anywhere, or I can just check on the service with my smartphone instead of having to get out my laptop)

There are lots of ways the phone makes my life more convenient.


It doesn't immediately mean we're better off with them either.

I'd argue that life is worse since smartphones were invented, on many axes.

The privacy implications alone far outweigh the benefits.


Years ago I had to carry a bunch of crap with me.

I had to take time to check email instead of simply looking when I get the message on my phone. I had to take a magazine to the toilet instead of reading on my phone.

I wore watches. They never lasted as long as the phone. I used to have alarm clocks too. The phones actually do better to wake me since a lot of alarm ringtones vary in sounds.

Gameboys and other portable gaming devices have been a thing for some time.

I actually carried around pen and paper when I went to the grocery store! When I was poor, I also took a calculator.

I used to have a portable television. It was black and white and possibly had a smaller screen than current phones. It definitely had poorer definition and one was lucky to pick up channels with the antennae.

Instead of arguing about who is correct about something, we can look it up in a restaurant. It is cool, and makes the conversation less about who is right and wrong and more about what is and could be.

Do you remember landlines? Wasn't it just wonderful that one couldn't have a private conversation at home? Would you seriously trade texting and/or having a private phone number for a house phone of old?

My niece carries my sister's phone around the house on video to talk to me. It dosn't matter that they are in Seattle and me in Norway.

I have a camera with me all the time and picture processing costs nothing! Do you have any clue how much I wanted that as a kid? I loved taking pictures, but couldn't afford film developing. As a bonus, my phone takes better pictures than many of the old cameras I've used. I happen to take pictures of manhole covers when I'm out, at least when I can make them interesting.

I share my artwork, that I make on paper, on the internet using my phone.

I have access to so many things. Lots of people can teach themselves "adulting" now, especially cooking. On their phone. Before I had my tablet, I used my phone in the kitchen.

Wasting life? No. You just aren't seeing the joy these piece of technology bring to others and disregarding the things the phone has replaced.


Ten years ago was 2009, dude. I definitely had an Android phone and used apps for navigation and music back then. In my car, even! Just via an aux cable instead of Bluetooth and Android Auto. (Of course, now I have a Mazda 3 and an iPhone and I use CarPlay...)


Why? because the automaker interface is AWFUL. Also, why should I pay a car dealer upwards of $2500 to gain GPS? My phone has GPS, it also has Siri so I can talk to it.


Well, it's a thing specifically to stop people from fiddling with their phones.


Maps and audio (music/podcasts) are the two main reasons I use carplay. Built in options in all vehicles I've used since carplay has been available are horrible in comparison.


It's a thing when many car manufacturers want you to pay a monthly subscription just get simple map updates for their already very crappy maps application.

It's a thing when when all your music is already on your phone.


Maps. Podcasts. Apple Music: “Hey Siri, play <whatever you could imagine>” Having your next appointment automatically show up in Maps ready to simply click “go.” Or “Hey Siri, where is the nearest In and Out?”

It’s amazing.


> "Here's my 2006 iPod if you want music, or unplug it and plug in your phone if you want"

Well, your 2006 iPod still uses a 3.5mm analog port. But that newfangled phone over there needs a new $400 Apple USB Thunderlightning Wireless Port. And your car doesn't seem to have an interface for that.


The Lightning to analog headphone adapter is $10, and IIRC, I had a USB port in my 2002 Acura RSX in a $200 third-party head unit anyway. But, pretending everything Apple makes is a kajillion billion dollars and incompatible with everything is sure a lot more fun!


The solution is to not buy a phone without a 3.5mm jack.


With the 3.5mm jack, you need to handle your phone for the uses the parent mentioned. This is much more dangerous than using phone integration in the vehicle and illegal in many jurisdictions.


Tiny bluetooth to aux adapters cost $10–20 on Amazon and work amazingly well.

Just get one that has a constant power source (no battery), and try to plug it in to a switched power outlet so it disconnects when you shut the car off.


>bluetooth... work amazingly well.

No.

Bluetooth is slow to change tracks, slow to pause, slow to connect, has annoying pairing issues, has lower sound quality, and is just generally subpar.

>Just get one that has a constant power source (no battery), and try to plug it in to a switched power outlet

So it's wireless, but with wires.

I rarely use either though, my car has usb and I have a 32Gb stick of music that stays in there.


I own two cars with CarPlay, one use a touchscreen (VW) and the other a rotary knob/button (BMW). I much prefer the knob - with the touchscreen, I have to focus on the screen for a longer period of time to make sure my finger hits the right spot. With the rotary knob, I still have to glance over, but only enough to ensure the correct "button" is highlighted. That feels less distracting to me.

All that said, I try to use voice control whenever possible. But, that's not yet a complete solution, as Apple keeps Siri from accessing non-Apple apps (can't voice control into Pandora or Google Maps).


Apple keeps Siri from accessing non-Apple apps (can't voice control into Pandora or Google Maps).

This is changing in CarPlay in iOS 13, as are a fair number of other things (generally for the better; I have a bit of hands-on experience thanks to a brave/foolhardy friend who's already installed the developer beta).

https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/3/18650923/apple-carplay-ios...


You can use Siri Shortcuts to access non-Apple apps. I'm pretty sure this has been a thing since iOS 12.

Source: I do it


This hits the sweet spot for me as well. I think CarPlay is the best all-screen interface I've seen, but having to touch the screen is borderline useless. Even the most minuscule bump in the road usually results in a miss-touch for me, whereas with a wheel as you say you can just glance at the screen, count the number of ticks you need to turn the wheel and be confident you'll get it right. When stopped I might use the touch screen because it's faster, but the wheel is still more convenient I find.

At this point I never use the car interface if there's CarPlay available (I usually rent cars.) The only exception is for changing car settings, which unfortunately is not exposed through in CarPlay it seems.


I usually rent cars

It always make my day when a rental car has CarPlay. And a little sad when it doesn't. Mostly because cheap rentals rarely have their own sat-nav installed and being able to use the phone on an integrated screen/audio system is really nice.


With touchscreens, there's always the balance of putting the screen in line-of-sight while driving while keeping it close enough to be touchable. I like the touchpad system in the new Acura RDX the most as a compromise, has most of the accuracy of a touchscreen (still lets you draw letters and stuff) while retaining the haptic nature of the knob/buttons (position on the touchpad is absolute -- tapping the top left corner of the touchpad means you're tapping the top left corner of the screen). Plus it has the advantage of not having your hand block the screen when you're trying to touch it.

Otherwise, the Mazda knob works well enough. I think most of the power user complaints could be addressed by better default behavior or customization on what a scroll/click does on certain screens.

Android Auto/CarPlay is easily the most distracting system I've used. The only benefit is if I choose to be distracted while driving, it's less distracting than using my phone. Being distracted while driving is a _choice_ and sadly one that many drivers want to have.


If you want choice and flexibility, don't live in a walled garden.


But it's such a well-manicured, aromatic walled garden!


And the fence is machined out of a single piece of aluminium!


>CarPlay is amazingly good, and only really works well with a touchscreen. >At this point, it would be very hard for me to buy a car that didn't have CarPlay integration with a touchscreen. I've seen implementations without touch, and they're much, much less useful.

Well, maybe the solution is to make apple carplay and android auto to work well with a dpad and buttons configuration, those interfaces have been working perfectly for videoconsoles and tvs, and a car system is more similar to that than to a phone.

Actually the system works well, and it's designed for that, And as the test confirm, using the touchscreen while driving is dangerous. The same that you can't use a video app while driving, the touchscreen should be disables while the car is moving.


> those interfaces have been working perfectly for videoconsoles and tvs

Is this a joke? I find navigating my TV's menus with a remote to be the most infuriating part of using a TV.


Personally I don’t mind using a remote to navigate menus; dedicated, physical buttons can in many cases make things easier. What I absolutely despise, however, is the latency between said button presses and the actual acknowledgment on-screen.

In my experience, the latency on cable TV boxes, Smart TVs, and in-flight entertainment systems has progressively gotten worse, not better over the years.

This latency, when coupled with a car’s touch screen is even worse.


Android Auto actually works quite well with Audi's jog wheel thing. The 2018 Q5 I rented last year had no touch screen, just this knob. Worked totally fine and required no touching a screen.


Acura is introducing a touchpad, with absolute, not relative, cursor positioning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcKa9apjOX8

It reminds me of the PSP/PSV having a touchpad on the back of the screen.


They have physical controls for climate control and opted for nondescript buttons instead of knobs. Truly brilliant...


This really saddens me. My 2010 Acura has controls that I really like, almost everything is a physical button/knob that I can hit without taking my eyes off the road.


I don't know about CarPlay but Android Auto works good enough with knob controls.

I have a 2014 Mazda3, which Mazda offered Android Auto/CarPlay upgrade for a fee earlier this year and I upgraded. My car has a touchscreen, but disables all touch features above a certain speed (5 or 10 mph I think). I don't think I'm really missing anything on Android Auto without touch.


I hate that kind of nanny stuff, what if you have a passenger and they can control it?

Does it also have a stupid screen that pops up every time you start the car saying, "don't use this while driving", or some such nonsense?


CarPlay works with physical controls; it doesn't require a touch screen. (As another commenter noted, the same is true of Android Auto.)


True. It's just generally better with one.


>the touchscreen should be disables while the car is moving

LOLNO. Not everyone is driving alone.


> I do agree, though, that touchscreens beyond phone interfaces should be used very sparingly. The Tesla's all-touchscreen situation in particular seems like a terrible idea. Most of us are used to being able to adjust the AC without looking, and that's only possible because there are physical controls we can feel.

This is a very common misconception. You CAN adjust the A/C via the steering wheel buttons, turn it off, control the fan speed etc. It's very intuitive.

In fact, you can this for most of the common controls. The settings on the touch screen are mostly for things that you only really bother with once like saving your seat-position and personal settings to your driver profile.


> You CAN adjust the A/C via the steering wheel buttons, turn it off, control the fan speed etc. It's very intuitive.

I've owned a Tesla for nearly 3 years, and I have no idea how to do that via the steering wheel controls. I'll dork around with the interface when I get back in my car after work today to try to figure that out. But evidently at least for me, feature discovery is half the challenge, no matter how easy it is once you've discovered it.


Same here. That being said, I never felt it was difficult to switch on off the AC since if you just press the fan for about a second, it shuts it down. This is the sort of stuff I would have liked to be voice activated.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLIBYlgsHis&feature=youtu.be...

That video tutorial is now outdated since there has been many UI improvements, but the steps should still be the same.


> The Tesla's all-touchscreen situation in particular seems like a terrible idea.

Terrible idea? It's the best thing since sliced iPhone. Keep in mind that the "car" is usually driving itself; that's a much higher level of solving the "silly human takes eyes and hands off road" problem, which makes what Mazda is doing seem, frankly, short-sighted (disclosure: although a Honda/BMW/Tesla fan, I've always secretly cheered for Mazda because I like their driving "DNA," and if I ever buy another non-EV again it might just be an MX-5 NA or NB for autox/track use). Now, of course, they're _currently_ not in the same league, but this stuff is getting cheaper (technology! heck yeah!) and these changes should be a look toward the future. All of that said, I don't feel like there's anything wrong with the move they're making, just, again, doesn't seem terribly forward-looking -- other than that, it's perfectly fine.


> You CAN adjust the A/C via the steering wheel buttons, turn it off, control the fan speed etc. It's very intuitive.

I'm doing web searches for this right now and not finding anything, either for Model 3 or Model S, or just Tesla in general.

Where do they hide this information?


The user manual would be a start. It's built-in on the interface and you can even search for keywords.


I have a model 3 and I'd like to know myself. AFAIK it's not possible..


I know the S/X have the functionality. I haven't been in a Model 3 so I can't say for sure.


> Correct. They have given up, and it's good that they have, because they've all proven they absolutely suck at it.

I started my career working on Ford Sync. I remember going to an exec fireside-chat type of thing where someone stood up and said "the worst mistake of my career was outsourcing vehicle interiors in the 70s/80s." This was to a group of engineers who were almost entirely outsourcing all of Ford Sync development to an offshore team. They didn't see the irony.

When I bought a car I went out of my way to find a way to avoid having Sync on it. I did succeed, but the best I could do was bug a separate cigarette outlet usb adapter so I could use it instead of the built-in USB port in the car. Why? Because plugging it into the car would force me to inherit all of the bugs in the assumptions built into Sync.

I left Ford with the impression that vehicle OEMs are the Nokias of the auto-world. I wouldn't bet on them to make a good consumer electornics end user experience.


>I've seen implementations without touch, and they're much, much less useful.

I have this. I never use it. Instead, I mount my phone next to the screen and use Android Auto on my phone. Using the rotary dial and other buttons is a) far more difficult and b) far more distracting while driving. An action that takes 1 second with a touch requires several seconds of fumbling with a knob and buttons w/out touch.


But the important different IMHO is that a knob / buttons don't require you to take your eyes off the road. In that 1 second you look down, you could cause an accident due to inattention.


Good point. That made me realize my preference is a bit more nuanced. For anything where navigating menus or anything displayed on a screen is required, I'm all for touchscreens.

For other things, like volume adjustments, climate control, seat position, etc. I agree that physical controls that can be operated w/out visual interaction are best.


I think your assessment is spot on. CarPlay is the best all screen car interface I've used, and these days it's all I ever use if it's available in the car I'm driving. The only car interfaces I like that aren't CarPlay are all buttons and dials, i.e. pre smart phone era cars, and even then only a handful really made sense to me.


>CarPlay is the best all screen car interface I've used, and these days it's all I ever use if it's available in the car I'm driving.

Curious, do you own a car, or are you renting them?

Maybe that's why some people are such advocates for the Apple/Android interfaces: when you're driving different cars regularly it's helpful to have a consistent interface.

Meanwhile, I have never had any problem "getting used to" the various interfaces in new cars I purchase every few years.


> Curious, do you own a car, or are you renting them?

I rent. Living centrally in a major city owning a car is more trouble than it's worth I find.

Consistency is definitely one of the prime reasons I prefer CarPlay. I feel CarPlay is really dumb, and that's a good thing. There aren't really that many things I want from my car interface, beyond temperature and music control, and navigation. Of those only the latter two would be controlled in CarPlay, and it works really well – better than any other interface I've used. It doesn't try to be fancy, have a bunch of useless animations or weird interaction. There's also no dragging anywhere, or at least not that I've seen – only simple pointing. Trying to drag a slider to change temperature in one of the newer Volvos is an absolute pain.

If I spent more than a week or two with the car, maybe I'd care to learn more about its interface, but I almost never do. So you're absolutely spot on with your reflection, at least in my case – consistency is key.


I own a car with Android Auto and I use it all of the time. The biggest benefit is the voice interface, but almost everything about the nav system on Android Auto is better than the builtin one.

AFAIK, one of the main feature requests for Tesla is to add Android Auto. Its one of those things that is annoying to go without, once you've had it available for a while.


>I own a car with Android Auto and I use it all of the time. The biggest benefit is the voice interface

Google must have about 100Gb of recordings of me saying, "OK Google, no, fuck, OK beep, OK Google... fuck, what was I doing again?"


Yeah, its crazy how mediocre it can be and still better than the stock interface.

If Nissan kept recordings, they'd have several even worse recordings. Long sequences that fail on the last step are really common.


>Most of us are used to being able to adjust the AC without looking, and that's only possible because there are physical controls we can feel.

My Tesla allows me to adjust the AC without looking, using the scroll wheels built into the steering wheel.


Not sure if you're trying to support his point or refute it, but those scroll wheels are a great example of physical controls done right.


The person being replied to claimed falsely that it's an "all-touchscreen" UI so I would see it as a refutation. The Tesla UI is fantastic.

If there were an all-touchscreen UI (but there is not) yeah that would not be ideal as long as full self driving is not yet here.


The original Model S scroll wheels are not. They regularly fail to correctly count the number of ticks. Worse, you spend quite a bit of time staring at the dash computer trying to get them into the correct mode.

My first car had dedicated buttons, which was the correct design.


The fact that they don't accurately track the number of clicks is annoying, but I spend zero time staring at the dash to get them in the correct mode. My left is set to volume and the right set to AC temp and in the past year I've never felt the need to change that.


On the flip side, the Nissan Leaf with premium audio is an example of physical controls done wrong. Everything is buttons with no tactile way to home your hand, you have to take your eyes off the road to fine the right button.

My old Honda had 3 knobs on the console with the center one being larger. There was no ambiguity when you blindly groped for controls.


I'm not sure it cleanly falls on either category. I agree with him that an all-touchscreen UI would be terrible, but I am correcting the misconception that Tesla has an all-touchscreen UI, because it doesn't.

I also agree that those scroll wheels are great.


The Tesla touchscreen interface is really good, partly I think because Tesla is just as much a software company as they are a car company.

The other car manufacturers UIs are atrocious and their historical unwillingness to use car play has set them back.

The tactile thing is one of those arguments that sounds good, but is just wrong. It’s like people arguing for the return of the blackberry form factor in smartphones.


> It’s like people arguing for the return of the blackberry form factor in smartphones.

Is there something wrong with that? The BlackBerry form factor is the best one, in my opinion. This reply was written from one.


What you're alluding to here is personal preference. If the Blackberry form factor is truly the best, people would still be buying them today.

One of Steve Jobs's famous argument on this is that you can make the UI better over time on touchscreen interfaces compared to QWERTY based ones.


> What you're alluding to here is personal preference.

I wasn't alluding to anything. I said so explicitly that it was my personal opinion.

> If the Blackberry form factor is truly the best, people would still be buying them today.

People are buying them. They're not as popular as Apple's iPhone, but that says more about Apple's marketing than anything else.

> you can make the UI better over time on touchscreen interfaces compared to QWERTY based ones.

My phone has a touch screen (a large one), and if I really want to, I can bring up a virtual keyboard, so your point doesn't make sense.

And a hardware keyboard doesn't mean you can't make the user interface better. Android doesn't make very good use of the physical keys, but my old BB10 OS BlackBerry did, because it was designed with it in mind, and it was continually being improved.


I'm not the person you responded to, but are people buying them?

I'd actually be curious how many people are buying them - it wasn't enough to save RIM. I think not as popular as the iPhone is a pretty big understatement and thinking that's mostly about Apple's marketing comes across as pretty clueless to me.

Some people still prefer horses to cars, but it'd be a generally bad idea for someone getting into the transportation business to focus on horse drawn carriages.

Popular doesn't necessarily mean better, but when you're an extreme outlier compared to what's dominant in the market and what's dominant in the market directly out-competed your preference when it had dominant market advantage, there's probably a reason.


FYI, BlackBerry hasn't been called RIM since 2012, and BlackBerry doesn't make the hardware. They just licence the brand to other manufacturers like TCL, which makes most of the current devices.

That's a false analogy. A horse-drawn carriage is a fundamentally different mode of transportation than a car, but a BlackBerry is identical to any other smartphone except for the small keyboard on the front.

The reason BlackBerries are not popular is because early touch screen smartphones were simply so much better than the BlackBerries of the day, and that set the precedent in consumers' minds that smartphones are slabs and smartphones with keyboards are bad (as evidenced by the people in this thread). But modern BlackBerries are just slabs with keyboards. If BlackBerry didn't aim their company at the ground at full throttle, the present phone landscape might look a lot different.

Also, most people simply don't need a smartphone with a keyboard, because all they use it for is SnapChat and FaceBook. It's like saying mechanical keyboards are inferior to rubber membrane keyboards because only a relatively tiny portion of the population uses them.

And yes, people are buying them. Not many, but it's apparently enough to be profitable, because TCL keeps releasing new models. Not on the levels of Samsung's S or Apple's iPhone devices obviously, but that's not what matters. (Close to a million KeyOne models were sold in 2017, but I don't know what the current numbers are like.)


> And a hardware keyboard doesn't mean you can't make the user interface better.

How can you do this when the device has already been shipped with the keyboard? Unless you're suggesting that Blackberry offers an unrealistic replacement program to change the keys and their function. Also tactile keyboard takes away a significant screen real estate. The market has also proven that people want bigger screens. There is no disputing that.


I don't know if you've ever used a BlackBerry, but it's not like the buttons on a car radio, which are fixed in function. The keyboard is merely an input method, like the keyboard on a desktop or laptop computer. And those don't seem to have a problem with changing user interfaces.

Furthermore, the keyboard does not significantly impact the size of the screen (it's only about an inch tall)[1], and it means the software keyboard doesn't pop-up and change the size of the screen, which is always disruptive. Also, the keyboard is touch sensitive, so the behaviour of the gestures can be changed in software (like swipe left to delete a word).

[1] The screen is too large for my preferences anyway.


[most popular] != [best]|[fits all use cases]


> [most popular] != [best]|[fits all use cases]

I know you're trying to be snarky, but there is no product that "fits all use cases" because this implies that it's perfect.

Therefore, your pseudo code statement is inherently flawed. A perfect product or service simply does NOT exist. If it does, feel free to prove me wrong otherwise.


I use Android Auto in my car, and the only complaint I have thus far is the occasional misinterpreted input.

Often, what I intend to be a tap will be interpreted as a swipe by the display. I suspect this can be attributed more to the cheap touchscreen hardware in my low trim model, than the software in Android or to the concept of touch screen interfaces.

Just as with the older analog controls, there will be good implementations and cheap implementations. It's not productive to compare well engineered, premium, apples to cheap, mass market, oranges.


CarPlay might be good, never tried it, but Android Auto isn't all that impressive, whether there is touch screen or not. I did not find it any more impressive with a touchscreen, though.

But I think the bigger problem is that even if touchscreen were a better way of integrating with a phone, it's still a completely wrong way of interacting with anything in a moving vehicle. At least with Audi's classic MMI I could control almost everything without looking at buttons or screen (well, can't quite input addresses that way, but you shouldn't do it while driving anyway). Even apart from all the privacy-sucking implications of at least Android Auto, running infotainment through the phone with touchscreen interface sounds like a terrible idea.


I bought a 2016 Golf with CarPlay and only used it about twice. I hated how it was locked into only the functions it supported, didn't let me use the in-car nav or other functions while it took over my screen, and it also took over my phone.


If you thought CarPlay was going to let you control aspects of your car, not aspects of your phone, then you misunderstood it entirely.

It also doesn't "take over" your phone. You can use your phone normally while it's plugged into CarPlay; I think the only difference is that phone calls will be done through the car's audio system.


I'm not sure what you thought I thought. I was absolutely not expecting CarPlay itself to let me "control aspects of my car". I don't even know what this means.

Here are the problems:

* When my phone is plugged into CarPlay, it completely takes over the entire head unit/nav system/screen of the car. I cannot easily swap in and out between CarPlay and the various control systems on my center screen -- Nav, car settings, etc. I'm STUCK IN CARPLAY. I cannot have the directions from the nav system show up in the MID display between the gauges, either, even though that's a separate display.

* It took over my phone. I was unable to do anything using my phone. Perhaps that has changed, but this is the way it was in 2016 which was 2nd gen of CarPlay, where they started adding more apps.

* Phone calls done through my car's audio system -- correct. However, this was also the case over bluetooth. That was the main problem with carplay. Bluetooth already solved most of the problems CarPlay purported to solve -- I had phone calls, streaming spotify, etc. The only thing I didn't have without CarPlay was a simplified Spotify (or whatever app) UI on my in-dash screen, hiding everything else I might want to do on said screen.


>I've seen implementations without touch, and they're much, much less useful.

What, exactly, are you doing with your infotainment system that requires so much use? I mean, I agree, CarPlay and Android Auto are nice, but I'm only playing music and using the navigation, both of which can be done easily without the fancy software.

>Most of us are used to being able to adjust the AC without looking

It's not merely that we are used to it, it's the entire purpose of the tactile interface: allowing you to adjust things while keeping your eyes on the road.


>What, exactly, are you doing with your infotainment system that requires so much use? I mean, I agree, CarPlay and Android Auto are nice, but I'm only playing music and using the navigation, both of which can be done easily without the fancy software.

Wow, that's an impressive knee-jerk.

First, you cast aspersions on the speaker by suggesting they're somehow using the feature too much if they care about interface efficacy.

Then you insist that key functions are done just as easily the old way, by which I presume you mean "by looking at the phone."

I'm not sure what your point is, but you're doing an admirable job at hollering at that cloud.


> phone phone phone phone phone phone

Either you should be driving or on your phone not both.


>The Tesla's all-touchscreen situation in particular seems like a terrible idea.

Don't knock it until you've tried it. First off, you are completely wrong about it being an all-touchscreen situation. There are plenty of physical controls. Many people like you form conclusions based on not knowing anything about the car other than what you are told by other people. Think for yourself. Take one for a test drive.


And what if I still find that it is terrible implementation by people who should not be allowed to make anything that could be used as a deadly weapon?


Try to help make a better one I suppose, if that’s really what you think. But not from a position of ignorance.


It is interesting that Tesla fans can't even imagine for a moment that someone might have actually tried it and did not like it...

In this case, though, this has been basically a solved problem for the past 50 years, if not longer. Yeah, there might be an argument whether a radial switch or a touchpad with gesture recognition is better, and you can play with positioning, but you don't just go to an objectively inferior touchscreen system and then try to make it slightly better.


> It basically means they have given up on developing a good branded interface between the driver and the car.

The one piece of feedback I gave Toyota in their post-purchase survey is: please replace the hot mess that is Entune with CarPlay.

They absolutely should give up. You can't compete with an OS and ecosystem into which billions of dollars have been sunk.

I agree, for what it's worth, that analog controls are superior to touch controls while driving. I hate that Toyota replaced an audio dial with a touch up/down control. But the value of CarPlay is just way too high.


> They absolutely should give up. You can't compete with an OS and ecosystem into which billions of dollars have been sunk.

I agree, but I think the people building these systems are working under basically impossible conditions.

I am just speculating here, but in a car company I would think the people are mostly going to be passionate about "car stuff" (engine, driving experience, aesthetics, drive train, etc), and so the infotainment system considerations are going to take a back seat to all the things car enthusiasts care more about. This doesn't necessarily mean the people in the infotainment team themselves, but would definitely be whoever they report to, up the chain to whatever the 'product owner' equivalent is for the entire car (eg: responsible for allocating the budget). I would expect to find an attitude less like "let's make sure people buy this car because of the infotainment system" than "infotainment is tolerated as a necessary feature to sell the car to the masses".

On top of that, they have to build software that is going to be around for a couple decades with (ideally) no updates, and that basically doesn't ever crash. This means extensive testing -- maybe for over a year. For sake of discussion let's say it takes only another year to build the software: this means by the time the car is released, the platform (both hardware and any underlying software/frameworks) it's built on is basically already two years old -- and there's a good chance when the platform was picked it already wasn't cutting-edge.

This isn't meant to be a defense of bad infotainment software -- it's still bad. Give up, and focus your time on making a great CarPlay/Android Auto experience (at probably a fraction of the time currently spent). Make the FM radio and maybe bluetooth audio work standalone, then just rely on the phone integration for everything else (maps, text messages, phone dialing, contacts, etc).


Isn't CarPlay exclusive to iOS devices? If so, what you're describing might be viable with Lexus. It'd be somewhat pointless with the Toyota brand, where iOS users are a rather small minority.


There's also Android Auto, which is the near-exact equivalent for Android phones. A head unit can run both.


Seriously? People will have the newest iPhone before they shell out for a car with a working air conditioner. The car is gone as a status symbol, the phone is now arrived.


We know that iPhone enjoys a minority of smartphone market share, and we know that Lexus is the luxury brand and Toyota is the everyday brand. One assumes iPhone will be overrepresented among Lexus buyers and underrepresented among Toyota buyers. Therefore it would make very little sense for the Toyota brand to abandon Android users in favor of iOS users in the design of its dashboard systems.


I wasn't suggesting they ditch android auto, but literally everyone but Mazda and Toyota have carplay as an option. Even Kia and Hyundai. Chevy,GMC,ford,Dodge, Chrysler,jeep,Fiat,Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi. All have carplay. Mazda is going simple, which I respect. I drive a Miata pre touchscreen and I use a $50 Android phone. But to have a touchscreen an not have android auto and carplay? Why?


Current Mazdas have CarPlay and Android Auto.


Current Subaru models also have both included. Hopefully that's the norm, rather than a manufacturer choosing only CarPlay or only Android Auto.


I think that the proportion of iphone owners who use toyotas is similar to that of the general population, so leaving out android is unlikely to happen.


Agreed, it would be crazy to leave out android auto.


They have given up, they’re starting to roll out CarPlay across Lexus and Toyota


Everyone wanted to be Star Trek The Next Generation and/or Minority Report. That is the reality of it. Shiny futurist magic finger-wavy interfaces. Which were designed to look as cool as possible in movies and not on the basis of practical affordance.


At least in TNG the voice recognition software (more-or-less) reliably understood what the user was saying.


As a counter point - we’re already seeing the role of the driver fading away from car travel. lane holding tech is readily available in your average car now. Tesla’s can drive themselves a large portion of the time. Etc. Concerns about tactile feedback and such don’t really matter if you don’t have to pay attention to the road anymore. As we’ve seen play out with phones, people vastly prefer touch screens and vastly prefer familiarity. Standardizing cars across a couple of different interfaces vs each car having a brand new layout of analog switches, knobs, and doo-hickeys is a much better rider experience.

Much like how a “phone” went from “a device to call someone on” to what an iPhone does today, a “car” is going from “something you drive” to just another device you interact with in various ways and it also happens to be able to get you from point A to point B.


people vastly prefer touch screens

Do they?

A car's dashboard doesn't have to be small enough to fit in your pocket; it doesn't have a screen you want to look at constantly where there's a direct trade-off between screen space and physical keyboard space; a car's dashboard doesn't have limits of where buttons can be because you have to hold it around the edges without pressing the buttons accidentally.

I still hate typing with on-screen keyboards, I just grudgingly accept that for a given small phone size, I'd prefer more of it to be screen than keyboard. That doesn't at all mean I want my car to turn into an Android tablet because I prefer a touchscreen in the constraints of a pocket size device.


If people really do vastly prefer touch screens, I would expect to see different control mechanisms moving in this direction (steering, shifting, etc.)

The fact that they aren't going this way in the systems that __really__ matter seems to indicate that people don't really prefer touch screens.


I was thinking the other day that there isn't really a good reason why I couldn't control my car with a PS4 controller. I wouldn't advocate for that as an industry wide change, but I'm willing to move beyond huge steering wheels and gear shifts


I think we take for granted that the modern car layout has always been the same way, but it's interesting to learn how it evolved. Some of the original designs were using tillers instead of steering wheels, for example.


Come on. My iPhone still has some tactile mechanisms also. But 99% of my interactions with it are via touch screen. That's what you're describing.


Yeah, and that sucks, but we live with it because that's the only way for it to fit in our pocket.

Why would we port one of the compromises of the smartphone interface over to our car interface?

And yes, I know, dynamic is a trump card. It still sucks. Have you ever read Bret Victor's rant on it? http://worrydream.com/ABriefRantOnTheFutureOfInteractionDesi...


Sure, but that's the exception that proves the rule.

The actual point was that when it comes to safety/critical functions, we still prefer those mechanical mechanisms. Unless you're flying or driving with your iPhone, I think the point still stands.

I think the fact that safety critical fly-by-wire systems could operate without the mechanical interface yet designers choose to do so anyway underscores this point.


Sure, safety and precision critical mechanisms are still served better by controls with tactile feedback. I happily recognize that.


I truly wish for a current phone designed even half as well as the Palm Pre and Treo were a decade ago. (Slide-out keyboard, "Just Type", non-sucking contacts and calendar, etc.) Really, I just want an updated Pre with a state-of-the-art browser and radios...


"Tesla’s can drive themselves a large portion of the time. Etc. Concerns about tactile feedback and such don’t really matter if you don’t have to pay attention to the road anymore. "

And Teslas ALMOST never kill their driver or innocent bystanders when the driver is negligently ignoring -- or bored and not paying attention to -- the road. There have been low speed accidents where the operator is tasked with taking over for the vehicle and they couldn't respond in time. Real life is neither a video game nor a perfect simulation. Limitations of the technology and the human operator as well as conditions of the road, lighting, and weather will always be a problem.

1. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/07/01/business/insi...

2. https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/05/behind-the-ub...


I wasn't commenting on the current state of self-driving car's safety...we can debate that endlessly so I won't. But the direction we're currently heading in is pretty darn clear.


Alright, but that's not how I read your comment. Regardless, until we as a society are so confident in autonomous vehicles that we eliminate manual control systems as outmoded and unnecessary, those systems should be designed to minimize cognitive load on the operator of the vehicle.


I don't necessarily disagree...that's just not what's happening in the real world. Car manufacturers are moving forward, quickly, with self-driving tech.


> just another device you interact with in various ways and it also happens to be able to get you from point A to point B.

just another device which can kill you and others in a split second if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.


yes. what's your point


The point was you comparing a car to a phone does not make any sense right now. That elusive future where a car just becomes a device is not going to be here in the next few years, we can talk about it when it comes but right now cars kill people if you dont pay attention.


I think you're vastly underestimating how quickly car manufacturers are moving..or at least trying to move.

Tesla is already pre-selling, for money, full self-driving capability in their existing cars. And they are, of course, designing their current fleet of cars for that future. There's already a Games section in the dashboard.

We can talk about the safety aspects all day until we're blue in the face. But this is the reality.


I think you're vastly overestimating how quickly car manufacturers are moving

> Tesla is already pre-selling, for money, full self-driving capability in their existing cars.

Has Tesla enabled FSD with no driver supervision?

That is the actual reality.


You've got to be kidding? Yes, the touchscreens on many/most of the cars out there are a horrible user experience. I've shared in that frustration. But just look to how Tesla has handled this to see what can be possible. It isn't perfect by any means but it is such an improvement to the user experience (being able to add buttons via the UI to enable new features, maps that respond quickly, etc). They still have analog controls for volume and other things. Touchscreens are here to stay. The user experience just needs to improve.


I've never driven a car with a touchscreen. And I wouldn't want one for basic controls. Once I become familiar with old-school control locations, I don't need to look away from the road to make adjustments.

And damn, I got pulled over once for suspicion of drunk driving, in my wife's car. In the process of finding some knob, I had drifted out of the lane.

Anyway, heads-up is a great alternative. I look forward to lots of cool AR.


> As a User Experience Professional, I was never able to grasp the true user's need for touch screens in cars.

For me there is two different scenarii for controlling the car:

- while driving quick adjustments: volume up/volume down, temperature control, play/stop/skip music, start/stop navigation.

All of those should be via easy to understand, direct access physical controls.

- while parked (or by a passanger): navigation setting, app switching, playlist adjustments, peripherals setup, air control strategies, anything finicky really.

I see a case for these operations to be done by a touchscreen with no physical equivalent. Physical controls for those are juste hell most of the time.

In that sense, I feel Mazda is just throwing the towel when a more sensible and best of both world approach could be taken.


In the 2015 Mazda I drive, they allow touch under 5 mph (I think?) But I installed Android Auto using third-party/open source software (and touch is always-on.)

By default on your phone, plugged into the car, you have to swipe/unlock Android Auto, but if you're parked, you can do that, and access your apps, including Google Maps. You can set your destination, and it immediately opens on the car screen. I'm completely fine with this model of interface - when parked, use your phone.

However, having said all that, if you still want to use a wheel, it's important they hit the right UI. In a BMW I rented, the way it only showed relevant letters while searching for an address (using the wheel) was pretty good and I was able to type in an address surprisingly quickly, even on my first time of using the software. Probably still not quite as quick as using a touch screen, but close enough.

I suspect that when you allow touchscreen as your fallback, it's harder to be "really good" about making a good wheel + button UI. It's too easy to lean on your crutch.


From a user experience perspective, it seems strange to me that one would only consider the driver experience and not include the passenger. I 100% agree with you about the need for tactile non distracting controls for the driver. At the same time carplay controlled by the passengers phone has a lot of value in terms of value add to passengers.


This may be true, but in terms of priority, I'd estimate that a car carries multiple people only 5-10% of the time it's used.


In the case of being driven by the passenger's phone, there's no need for a touchscreen in the car itself.


Touch screens in cars are the equivalent of shiny phones. They persuade people to buy and some of them might love them.

Nearly every phone I see has a protector around it, destroying the nice looking design because one drop and it breaks. But you still need to have shiny designed phones or you won't sell them.

So cudos to Mazda. I wonder if they can keep this policy up when everyone else has shiny large touchscreens.


I have used Audi’s version of CarPlay without a touchscreen and I hated it. Circling through icons that were designed for a touch interface made no sense. Tesla’s interface is not perfect but interacting with the map is so much better with its large touchscreen.


Yep. I recently spent a day driving an S5 and S6, and the non-touchscreen carplay was terrible. I have a touchscreen version in my 2017 CR-V, and it is a joy to use. I read the comments in this thread, and it makes me laugh. So much "TOUCHSCREENS ARE THE DEVIL, NOBS AND BUTTONS ONLY." It just doesn't jive with my experience at all. Maybe it's a generation gap thing? I'm 30 FWIW.


Possibly. If the only thing you're used to and expect is a touchscreen, you will long for a touchscreen even when it is objectively a worse experience.

Seriously... I've seen people right here on HN claiming that "look, navigate to a touch menu, navigate to another menu, select an item, press and hold" is superior to "press one button on the door".


The stakes are much lower, but the same complaints apply to media center remote controls.

Recently my Logitech Harmony ONE died, and I replaced it with their current high-end device. I HATE it. I want to be looking at the TV when using it, not shifting attention to the remote's touch screen. Worse, the remote wants to support lots of controls, which it implements by allowing a swipe between pages. But it's way too easy to accidentally change pages, and the pages are all different kinds of things, so it's not clear how to swipe back to the one you want.

So I took the $100+ device and threw it in the closet. I bought their 665 model, which is a big "peanut" form factor. It has all physical buttons, except four are located on the edge of an LCD screen. But that's not a touch screen, it's just for labeling purposes. All the buttons on the device are physical. This $50 device is so much easier to use than it's big brother.


Related to my other comment on this article here, I bought the new device which came with the Harmony Hub. Once I connected it to my Google Assistant, I haven't looked back.


> As a User Experience Professional, I was never able to grasp the true user's need for touch screens in cars

The flexibility to benefit from rapid product iteration. If you think of cars as mostly software products that receive updates over the air, a flexible interface makes a lot more sense (even though I agree that it makes for a pretty bad user interface).


If we extend this idea, why not do it for airplanes? It seems like a bad idea to be changing the layout of mission-critical systems. I'm sure it'd wreak havoc if the cockpit of a 787 was all touch screens, with UI changes pushed at the whim of developers.

I drive a car with analog controls. The buttons for controlling the radio, hazard lights, the A/C, etc are all static. I wouldn't want it to change. It gets the job done; it doesn't need iteration, and messing with it would reduce safety. I don't have to look at the controls, because the buttons are of various shapes/sizes that I know. Tactile feedback is value in keeping eyes on the road.


An A380 is already full of screens where touch input could be introduced. All major airplane manufacturers are definitely experimenting with touch screens in the cockpit [1]. I guess not for flight critical systems for different reasons, because of missing tactile feedback and limited usage during turbulent flights [2]. But maybe that's just a question of time...

[1] https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/airbus-aims-for-a... [2] https://aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/22729/why-are-t...


How about spacecraft with touchscreens: https://www.spacex.com/crew-dragon ?

Compare to the cockpit of Space Shuttle: https://i.redd.it/9mj5bcbnzsx21.jpg


I know from people inside SpaceX that they have covers for the essential switch panels which they put on when Musk is around, because he objects to them for confused silly reasons (like tesla cross-marketing). The astronauts and capsule engineers know better, of course, so this is the compromise.


I hope you're arguing in favour of the space shuttle there. It has no contextual buttons. I'll always argue that contextual controls do not belong in critical systems. Every button on that shuttle will do the same thing every time you press it. A touch screen looks nice but isn't safe. Mission control is telling you to press X button, but X button isn't actually on your display right now?? That's a big problem.


The crew dragon is designed to be completely autonomous. 99% of the time, the astronaut is just a passenger, so there is less requirement for physical controls.

In terms of mission control telling you to press X button, it is almost certain that mission control would have a simulation of the cockpit running that would show them exactly what the astronaut is seeing on their display. So they will always be able to direct the astronaut correctly.

I definitely think a touch screen in this situation can be safer, because it can display information in a way that makes it quicker for the astronaut to understand the situation. It in theory requires less training because there is less requirement to remember the position and function of every single switch.


Space missions need to account for the times when things really hit the fan, that's when design really matters. If shit goes haywire why should I assume my touchscreen is now displaying the same thing as mission controls? If it's not then instructions go out the window. If shit goes haywire in the shuttle, mission control can safely assume they're looking at the EXACT control scheme the pilot is, and can read out controls accordingly. I get that automation is intended, but for emergencies a touch screen really doesn't cut it.


>Every button on that shuttle will do the same thing every time you press it.

I agree with you in spirit, but would disagree with this particular point. Apollo had an erroneous "Abort" signal because a particular switch didn't do what it was supposed to, because it had some interesting failure modes in zero-gravity.

I think is dangerous to assume that one design is flawless over the other; both touch-screens and mechanical systems have their own unique failure modes. Maybe one is more reliable than the other, which I think is currently the case here.


Ok perhaps I could change that to "every working button on the shuttle will do the same thing every time I press it".

Your mention of zero gravity has brought up another consideration for me. Assuming it's a capacitive touchscreen you need to ensure no conductive material ever floats into contact with it by mistake. Switches and buttons have covers and rails to prevent accidental pressing but how do you manage that with touchscreens? Apple manages it on your phone because a false negative is ok in that case, I don't think you can allow that on a spacecraft. How is a floating glove finger differentiated from a glove actually attached to hand?


I don't think the "every working button" buys you much here because is could just as easily be stated as "every working touchscreen does the same thing every time I press it". The point from reliability engineering is that everything works until it doesn't. The difficulty with software systems is that they often have complexity that is tough to understand all the paths let alone test/mitigate them (see Boeing 737 Max as a recent example).

You bring up really good points on the zero gravity considerations. It would be interesting to see SpaceX's FMEA on this system to see what all they've considered.


?? Touchscreen interfaces almost always have contextual displays. So no touching it doesn't always do the same thing every time I press it. The space where a spacebar is on your phone is the same space that is sometimes the camera button. I think contextual design does not suit important interfaces.


I meant it in terms of pressing a working contextual display. I think we're saying the same thing. Software introduces many more failure pathways so it's often not suitable for primary hazard mitigation.


Elon Musk's fascination with touchscreens is absurd and dangerous.

Even in the future world where everything is autonomous, knobs and buttons will always be needed for mission-critical interactions, whether it be driving in dangerous conditions or having to perform emergency maneuvers on your "autonomous" aircraft.


> on your "autonomous" aircraft.

It seems that the FAA (and Garmin) does not agree with you:

* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8o0Nk8E0S4 * https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnuRFAAKdfg

I like Dynon's systems a bit more, as they have a few physical buttons to allow one to go to certain top-level / important parts of the menu system in a jiffy:

* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjADTgwCtUU


Just because there is a design moving forward does not mean there is not a considerable amount of discussion/dissent/disagreement on the approach.


This has far more to do with customer expectations than it does with safety. It would be much harder to sell a car with a different kind of steering mechanism than a wheel. The wheel is a leftover design element. Just because it's what we have doesn't mean it's good.



Have you seen the F-35 cockpit? It's just one giant touchscreen.


It has a large screen, but it's definitely not "just a giant touchscreen"

Some things are controlled by the helmet movements.

https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-e6311865f9688fdb18cb69...


And, sensibly, stuff you would use while dogfighting or landing are switches and buttons. That, and things that have to always work like the radio and artificial horizon.


You drive car with pedals and steering wheel. Everything else that is ternary (music, climate, nav) is on touch screen.

So yes, you can have cabin light and temperature controls on touchscreen on an airplane.


Climate is not ternary, it's definitely important for driving in cold climates. To the point that if you can't see ahead, you need to stop on the expressway in order to adjust the airflow to windscreen, so that you don't collide into the other guy who has stopped to adjust the airflow in his car.


Climate can be controlled by steering wheel too.


Of course. The point is that you need to have those dedicated controls with ergonomics that support driving, not touch screen.


Think I have seen flight attendants use a touch screen on the intercom and the cabin lights / infotainment. I’d assume everything on the cockpit is life of death for ~300 people, so different rules apply. Imagine what a sick joke it would be if the recent Boeing crashes were caused by pilots fiddling with a touchscreen while the plane went into a dive. It’s difficult enough to work all the controls accessible without tabbing or scrolling.


> So yes, you can have cabin light and temperature controls on touchscreen on an airplane.

Which means, annoyingly, that you can be locked out of those controls during crew announcements.


> having a flexible interface makes a lot more sense

For business, not the user.

And honestly I expect the answer is simpler: this enables them to subcontract out the UI part and run it in parallel with the development of the rest of the car, because the UI can no longer affect anything else in the car design.


Which allows them to have the UI for controlling the car be done by a team without strong communication links with the team designing the rest of the car's UX.

Is that a genuine benefit, or one that shows up more early in planning and who's downsides show up late?


It's a benefit to the business. There are way more variables of interest to consumers in a car than just UI; few if any will take a crappy touch UI as a dealbreaker (especially if everyone does crappy touch UIs). So it's a pure win for business - the downsides never reach them, they only materialize on the user end, large enough to frustrate people and maybe even cause accidents, but small enough to not cause a purchasing decision change the next time one is in a market for a car.

(I need a term for those cases. Psychological externality?)


Vested disinterest?


That sounds awfully like Boeing's 737-MAX MCAS debacle.


Because who know when the volume control might get iterated out of existence


I prefer to think of cars as cars. A dock for a smartphone takes care of entertainment and for everything else discrete knobs switches and levers. Preferably clicking with a loud click.


I agree on the flexibility part. Interesting thought. Although that doesn't necessarily mean it has to be a touch screen. There are many non-functional buttons in my car right now, which might be wired but just don't perform an action. The car manufacturer could make it more easy to reprogram these.

You can see it a bit as a Playstation controller (or whatever platform you like), it has multiple programmable buttons. A car could basically have the same. A touch screen is not required.


It gets tricky as soon as you need labels and/or more complicated visual feedback attached to "dumb" buttons.

The touchscreen is "lazy" in that it can defer thinking hard about your problem space and I can see why that alone would feel scary in a car.

On the other hand, there is only so much foresight you can have when you are innovating. Developing a Tesla might simply not be feasible without the flexibility a touchscreen gives you.


I too am glad Mazda did this, now I have to decide if I want to trade in my 2018 Mazda 3 for a 2019 one :-).

Touch screens are cheap, mechanical switches are expensive. Mechanicals are expensive from an acquisition cost, tooling/manufacturing cost, maintenance cost, and replacement cost. So automakers were happy to move everything into the touch screen and reduce these costs and boost their margin.

I hope Mazda will be able to hold this line with their accountants.


How much do mechanical switches cost?


Depends, are they custom or off the shelf? Are they environmentally sealed or open? How many cycles do they need to last for? What sort of conditioning circuitry do they need?

There will always be the cost of additional wiring harness and copper wire at some cost per foot. Some additional testing time when the consoles are assembled to verify the switches are all working Etc. Time has a cost associated with it during assembly as well.


Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I have no problem with touch screens in cars. My problem with is with the horrible UI those touch screens provide. They're slow to respond and don't seem well reasoned for the functions it has.

It's why I love Carplay. It expands the function of the car in a needed way. Maybe analog controls are better, but interface matters less to me than function.


I understand your reasoning, but for me after having used Car Play in my wife's vehicle...it was a major factor in my car shopping experience.

I spend a lot more time getting things set "just right" on my phone than I ever will on my car. Being able to hop in and have Waze, Google Maps, Pandora "just work" and be easily accessible rather than some built in system within the car that's going to just "check a box"...it's night and day. Car Play was so far above anything I've seen in a vehicle before that I actually miss it when it's not there.

I can understand the preference for analog controls though. It will be interesting to see how it pans out.


> Audi, for instance has said that part of the reason it’s discontinuing its rotary controller is that a touchscreen better supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

This to me is insane reasoning. That is no way user centric. This decision is 100% business driven and has nothing to do with the end user.

That statement isn't true, Car Play support for me was a non-negotiable for the car I purchased two years ago. Another friend made Android Auto support a big factor in his decision and said he wouldn't buy another vehicle that didn't support it. From other conversations we don't seem to be outliers, that feature support is incredibly user(buyer) centric.


> Car Play support for me was a non-negotiable for the car I purchased two years ago.

It's a big point in my car buying decision just for the navigation experience alone.


But you can do CarPlay/AAuto without the touchscreen idiocy.


Yes. At least with CarPlay you can use the knob thing on our Mazda and not use the touchscreen at all (which is disabled when the vehicle is in motion).


Mazda and other automakers build TRULY AWFUL UIs in their cars. Carplay is a godsend in this case. You can direct Siri to send texts, read texts and you have a superior GPS application. CHeck out the abomination that it Mercedes-Benz carousel for showing/selecting radio stations on their cars.

What you are really advocating is tactile feedback for digital displays--with some method of shaped feedback on by the screen itself. As a touch screen's in cars don't offer haptic feedback, that is an issue. That said some aspects like moving up and down stations or songs in a playlist can be controlled by steering wheel paddles or buttons on the wheel.


The 2019 mazda 3 without the touchscreen still has carplay and android auto. You can still do all of that. You control it with the "commmander switch" instead of a touch screen, and more often with the volume knob or buttons on the wheel for the most common tasks.


Hopefully this is a trend that catches on; I was resolved to never buy a vehicle that had touch screen controls in it, after seeing what a mess Ford had made with the UX in my wife's 2019 Edge, compared to what I have in my 2010 F150.

I think touchscreens are dangerous as hell to have in vehicles, because you cannot operate them by feel alone, like you can with a buttons and knobs interface. People are distracted enough playing on their phones while they drive, so selfishly for my own safety, I don't really want them futzing around with the janky touchscreen display to change the radio or mess with the air conditioning too.


> Audi, for instance has said that part of the reason it’s discontinuing its rotary controller is that a touchscreen better supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The baffling thing about that is that Audi's MMI system was actually pretty darned good. And a few of the cars support controlling Apple Carplay with the rotary dial.

Audi and BMW used to sell their dial interfaces as a unique advantage over touchscreen only infotainment systems. It blows my mind that they're (Audi at least) going in the opposite direction now.


> Audi, for instance has said that part of the reason it’s discontinuing its rotary controller is that a touchscreen better supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Sturdy rotary controls which really are knobs are much better for a car. If you're on a bumpy road, the axis of the control will stabilize your hand. The controlling motion (twisting) can be more easily controlled, even if the bumps are trying to move your hand up and down. (I never see cars on the highway rapidly rotate about their roll axis more than 10 degrees. This only happens in Fast and Furious movies.) Furthermore, the feedback necessary to get from the control is all tactile. Contrast this with a slider control. An up/down slider is bad, because the control movement is in line with the direction of the bumps. Even a left/right slider has some problems with this, if your arm isn't perpendicular with the control.

Contrast all of the above with controls on a touchscreen. Almost all of the feedback is visual. Simply registering your hand on the control requires visual feedback. There is almost no physical stabilization of your hand in bumpy conditions. Instead, you have to compensate with a hand/eye feedback loop, which requires even more visual attention.


It makes prefect sense: the whole automotive industry has a terrible track record for ui/ux in the non-driving parts of the cars because they don't care about it enough to put the effort in.

So they outsource to Apple and Google that made a, frankly, even with touchscreens, better system then what car manifacturers would have ever produced.

Now the problem is that Apple and Google had a hammer and treated the problem like it was a nail when it was not...


I totally agree. I recall the Blackberry with jog-wheel (non-touch screen), worked great, could scroll at a speed I liked, easy, one handed navigation of email, joy. Then they dropped that for the mini trackball, which they introduced with the pearl (a break into a consumer market). This was a mistake IMHO, and from a business users perspective, they sacrificed business users reaching for a consumer market that the likes of Apple did better.

Their again, many examples of not the best design happening as the consensus of public know how to use it. QWERTY keyboard layouts being classic example.

Then consoles and the mouse+keyboard combo over a game-controller pad. For FPS, mouse wins for ease of control still for me.

But the big takeaway for me about physical buttons over virtual touch-screen ones is the ability to leverage muscle memory. With physical buttons, you know were they are, how they feel and can do that without looking. Bit like sending a text from a nokia phone whilst it's in your coat pocket. Try doing that with a touch-screen based phone. Whilst not an everyday use, it does highlight the advantages of buttons in some uses.

Now, there is work ongoing in haptic feedback and some impressive work in the field of using ultrasound to create virtual surfaces you can feel. Which for many I'm sure will be great, but then the whole KISS design philosophy has somewhat taken a backseat in the name of features. But then, features are what sells many tech items today as they are still evolving. But there will always be people who prefer actual buttons. More so if you have ever been in a lift with a touch screen instead of buttons, which is something not to be sneezed at, literally unless you want to visit extra floors.


Care to elaborate on your studies? Not many cars have gone full touchscreen. I grant you that it took a bit of getting used to on my Tesla, but now I'd never want to go back. Curious how you controller for familiarity in your studies.


Here is a counter anecdote. Recently I moved from BMW (buttons and dials) to Tesla Model 3 (basically a big iPad bolted on to the dash). Both me, my wife, bunch of friends with Model 3, all vastly prefer the touch screen experience.


Counter-counter point: I much prefer the BMW interface because I can find the volume and AC controls without taking my eyes off the road.


Good thing Tesla has both of those on the steering wheel so that the driver can find them without taking their eyes off the road or their hands off the wheel.

Meantime the passenger can enjoy the touchscreen.


You would reconsider your point of view if you have seen some truly evil UIs using rotary controls.

Worst thing is when you need a manual to understand how the thing works, and manual DOES NOT specify all the options.

I, as user, would prefer a large touch screen for changing settings and navigating, and several programmable analog buttons for when I'm driving.

Rotary controllers are evil.


In my Mazda, above 5MPH the touchscreen doesn't respond to touch any more and you need to use the rotary controller (which is good as muscle memory allows you to use it effectively)


Have you ever used iDrive? I've been using it in cars occasionally for at least 10 years and it still confuses me.

I just bought my first vehicle with it yesterday, so maybe I'll get better at it. Touchscreens are not great in cars but if you can perform the action quickly, it beats fiddling with a knob for 15 seconds.


Does it? I can locate and adjust a knob without ever taking my eyes off the road. The same can't be said for a touchscreen.


You didn't answer the iDrive question. I can find and fiddle with the knob/control, but I still need to look at the screen to figure out what actually happened. It's not like a simple volume knob which I can do without looking.

IOW a well-designed touchscreen UI can be better than a poorly designed non-touchscreen UI. And, unfortunately, most car infotainment systems are poorly-designed.


This is exactly what got me into modding Mechanical Keyboards.

There is no reason that I NEED to launch Spotify from an actual switch controller...

https://www.alliedelec.com/product/electroswitch-inc-/6600/7...

But it feels so much better to control inputs with hardware. And rotary dials for volume, and many tasks in photoshop are infinitely superior.


Also fun to use an Arduino Leonardo to create custom input devices that are understood to be USB keyboards/mice!


> This to me is insane reasoning. That is no way user centric. This decision is 100% business driven and has nothing to do with the end user. It basically means they have given up on developing a good branded interface between the driver and the car.

This is really wrong. People were begging Mazda to add Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for years and they have only just recently added them. Adding these features has everything to do with what people want. Android Auto is pretty amazing, and is steadily getting better as well.


I have an older Sebring from 2010 with only 25k miles on it I was able to snag up for a good deal. Was a nicer 'limited' one so it still had a newer touch screen console.

It is annoying as you touch it once to 'activate' it and then have to tap the screen a second time to register the press on whatever button/input you were trying to touch.

No tactile feedback and having to press it twice and visually check to make sure the input you wanted worked.

It is much more time consuming/distracting than an older vehicle in my personal experience.


Agreed.

I've been using touch car interface for the last 5 years (Chevy). I basically do two things: - Bluetooth connect - listen to spotify _from_ my phone / listen to map directions _from_ my phone.

I rarely use the touch interface - I am switching tracks either using the buttons on the wheel (most of the time), or using the phone.

Also, I do not want another yet another "kind of familiar but different" interface like most of the car touch control systems. I want the interface on my phone, that's it.


> Many studies I conducted actually told me that people favored analog controls over digital touch screens controls. It gives you tactile feedback, making it accessible for anyone with sense of touch.

I assumed this was widely known (because of COURSE we do), but the digital touch screens were CHEAPER than dedicated physical controls for all desired functions. To design as well as to mass produce.


I was renting a 2018 car on vacation with apple car play and was very pleasantly surprised how good experience is. For comparison, I own the same maxed-out but 2017 car without a carplay. Apple Carplay is so much better then car manufacturers system in every respect I tried (disclaimer: I did work for Apple but several years ago and on unrelated projects)


>It basically means they have given up on developing a good branded interface between the driver and the car.

Or, people actually like CarPlay and Android Auto and audi would have to spend a lot of money to keep up. Newer audis already support CarPlay. They're only switching from a rotary controller to a touch screen.


> This to me is insane reasoning. That is no way user centric. This decision is 100% business driven and has nothing to do with the end user.

I absolutely hate user interface of my Audio (with rotary knob and without touch screen), so I use CarPlay pretty much exclusively.

I would love to be able to use a touch screen on that for some of the interactions.

> It basically means they have given up on developing a good branded interface between the driver and the car.

You can't expect that all car markers will develop a good branded interface, just like most Android phone makers have a UI that's worse than the standard Android one.

With CarPlay, I get to use a UI from a company that's an expert a making good apps.


> This to me is insane reasoning.

Not insane but highly cynical. They are increasing risk to my - their user's - life in order to save some bucks on R&D and integration investment. Does it make you wonder where else did the make the same tradeoff? It should.

> I hope other brands start following Mazda again for this choice.

Same here. When I buy my next car, I would ensure it doesn't have controls that require me to be distracted from driving to operate even the most basic functions.


> This to me is insane reasoning. That is no way user centric. This decision is 100% business driven and has nothing to do with the end user. It basically means they have given up on developing a good branded interface between the driver and the car.

...or figured out that you aren't as good at software as you are at building cars.

Honestly, CarPlay/Auto have been a godsend for me. The navigation software works better than anything I get from car manufacturers and just keeping me from mucking with my phone is fantastic. That said... I'm not sure the touchscreen part of that is the real winner there for me.


I've hated touch screens in cars... I generally rely on bluetooth, only because the controls are so bad, at least with BT I can pick up my phone and bring it into view if needed, but the steering controls handle next navigation, which along with volume are about 95% of interactivity. The other 5% being maps.

If the Mazda navigation/interaction/entertainment experience is better, I'm definitely in favor. I miss the in-between period, where I could just insert a USB drive with sorted directories of mp3s and use that easily.


Of course it's not user centric. It's about capturing more revenue while limited the parts in the car. Back in the day, you had modular radio mounts. Ford broke the mold with the Ford Taurus and the integrated controls that you couldn't replace.

Now, if you care about a nice radio in your car, you need to upgrade your entire car for $5k.

I have an otherwise awesome Honda Pilot with a built in, unsupported android tablet that doesn't support carplay or android auto, and is hard to replace without heavy hackery because core controls of the car are built into the tablet.


public reason: safety.

Private reason: we want total voice controlled system so we can listen to everything you say & do in car, log it and get into the ad and analytics business. One step at a time well be here.


I'm not buying a car with no touch screen. I like to have physical buttons for AC, and quick switching between media, radio, a dial for volume, things like that. But I also need a touch screen for Google Maps, and my music apps. Often times, my passenger might navigate these.

Edit: Also, in all fairness, where the screen is relative to the dash matters, and the size of it as well. From the photos on the post, those Mazda touch screens looked pretty small and awkwardly positioned for touch controls.


Mazda (at least my Mazda6 from a few years ago) can do this because they have a great interface to the entertainment/info system. They have a joystick with a few mouse-like buttons on the center console just behind the gear shift. It's very easy to do common tasks like change volume, change station, skip to next in playlist without taking eyes off the road. My wife actually didn't realize for more than a year that the screen was a touch screen. She had never had to use it.


Yup, agree 100%. We bought a 2014 Mazda 6, and while it has a touch screen, I find myself only using the control knob 99% of the time. It's vastly superior to any touchscreen interface I've ever used, and also far better than some of the mouse-like joysticks in some cars (think later 201X Lexus vehicles and such).


I think supporting Android Auto and CarPlay is pretty user centric. Those are the only half decent in-car interfaces I've ever used. Nothing else is close.


Mazda's touch screen is far away up on the dashboard while other brands like Citroen or Tesla place it between the driver and passenger, so it's easily operated by both. I like both Audi's rotary controller and touch screens. Both are a distraction to the driver because you have to navigate menus, not particulary because of the interface. Seat also has a touchscreen and it's a VW brand.


I vastly prefer my touchscreen to analog controls - how the heck would I control my map and nav and radio without an interface that can change at need?


I own a Mazda that has this touchscreen and I use it to set nav destinations, but otherwise I rely totally on the analog controls. Typing with analog dials can be a nightmare though so I hope they sort this out -- my mother's Audi makes you type with analog controls and it makes me want to pull my hair out. Good luck setting a destination when you're in a hurry.


Have you tried inputting directions into a car GPS using rotary controls? It's reminiscent of old rotary phones and IMHO a terrible UX


Better than touchscreen, though, especially when moving (only doing it as a passenger, of course!)


Having used both, I vastly prefer the touchscreen. The rotary input takes way longer to navigate to the next letter, and it's easier to make mistakes (e.g. accidentally switching modes) and it's harder to fix them (need to cycle all the way to the end to hit backspace, sometimes having to start from scratch if your mistake was "jump out of input mode")


I've tried Android Auto in a Sonata with touch screen, and Passat and a Q5 with rotary controller. The latter were far easier to use, once you've spent 5 minutes making sure you understand how it works.

Maybe if the touch screen were Tesla-sized it would have been easier to use, but on a regular sized screen, even switching modes takes much more attention with a touch screen, because you need to look at it, move your hand to it, make sure you're hitting the correct location, wait until it registers,m make sure you've actually hit the right spot. With a rotary it was "slide down, no need to look because it clicks, click or two clockwise (still no need to look), push down, quick glance that you're on the right screen, click clock- or counterclock-wise to select what you need. Much safer and easier, and you're not going to hit a wrong thing because you drove over a bump.

For entering addresses a large touch screen is nicer, but then a keyboard is even better, but since you're only supposed to do that while parked, so hitting a wrong button shouldn't be a big problem.


I've tried Android Auto in a Sonata with touch screen, and Passat and a Q5 with rotary controller. The latter were far easier to use, once you've spent 5 minutes making sure you understand how it works.

Maybe if the touch screen were Tesla-sized it would have been easier to use, but on a regular sized screen, even switching modes takes much more attention with a touch screen, because you need to look at it, move your hand to it, make sure you're hitting the correct location, wait until it registers,m make sure you've actually hit the right spot. With a rotary it was "slide down, no need to look because it clicks, click or two clockwise (still no need to look), push down, q


You must have used some really terrible touchscreen GPSes.


Pretty much top of the line.

There's a big difference between what is safe and convenient when you are sitting at your desk, lazily poking at the screen, and what is acceptable when you are barrelling down the highway, with the screen you need to stretch your arm to reach.


Interacting w/ a car touchscreen when you're on the highway isn't the brightest of ideas... Every car - even those w/ touchscreen - has physical buttons for top level commands (e.g. play the radio) that one could use via muscle memory or, at worst, a quick glance. Doing anything more involved that requires attention _while the car is in motion_ is just asking for trouble.


Exactly the point. But on some cars pretty much everything requires you to interact with a touch screen (cough, Tesdla, cough), and even if it does not, there's usually not enough buttons.

On my wife's Sonata, e.g., sure, you can switch the screen between map, nav. entry, radio, etc. with physical buttons. But after that it's all touch screen.Thank God they at least left alone knobs for the climate control...

Sat in the eTron lately while waiting for service. Two Nice, bright screens with haptic feedback. Very much fun, as long as I was playing with it on a showroom floor. But I shudder to think of actually trying to use on the road.


I have a newer subaru with a touchscreen and an older audi with the MMI rotary wheel. The rotary wheel is a superior interface, it has a slight learning curve, but then you do most operations by feel without needing to spend much time looking at the screen. the touch screen is finicky, and by definition requires you to take your eyes off the road to use it.


Agree with this for now, but what about when we're no longer driving the car?

When that happens a touchscreen and the ability to play games/etc makes a lot of sense. I think what Tesla and others are doing is designing and preparing for the future. Although not ideal right now, they'll be far ahead of Mazda when we transition to self-driving cars.


In order to do that, we're also going to need tens of thousands of dollars worth of additional hardware - high-end weatherproof sensors, and full-range actuators for all controls with enough authority to use all of the power the car has. Not to mention whatever pile of computers and software is needed. Changing out the UI so you can play games a little better seems like a sidenote beside that.


Agree, except when you need to type a name.


Then MB/BMW approach of having a touchpad near your wrist is perfect - you can draw letters with your finger without having to worry about hitting miniscule letters on the screen.


Do they have a second touchpad for us lefties?


Well, I'm in the UK so I have to use it with my left hand even though I am right handed - it works fine. Because the letter recognition is based on a single letter at a time it works fine even if I make an absolute mess of it with my left hand.


When you need to type a full name. Having a keyboard present could give a huge advantage. This is not equal to having a touch screen.

Next to that, my car has a system where you choose 1 letter and only the next possibility pops up. It decreases the need of a full keyboard. It's quite likely you only need to choose the first 3 to 4 letters.


I would actually like a stronger integration with the phone for cases like this. If you need directions, just load it up on google maps and send it to your car. If you need to pull up a playlist, same thing. Of course if you are driving this should be done by the passenger.


I wonder if you’ve used Tesla’s touchscreen or even Apple CarPlay with a touchscreen and Google Maps. You only seem to mention these old UIs. The rotary control on a virtual keyboard is atrocious to type addresses and points of interest.


  As a User Experience Professional, I was
  never able to grasp the true user's need
  for touch screens in cars. 
Stage 1: We need a touchscreen so we can show a keyboard for sat nav address entry.

Stage 2: Well, given that we've got this touchscreen, we might as well use it for.....


A screen with effectively infinite "soft buttons" is a hell of a lot cheaper than an equivalent amount of automotive grade pushbuttons.

Initially this was done to save cost, but lately it's removed a severe and justified roadblock to the addition of useless features, IMO.


> It gives you tactile feedback, making it accessible for anyone with sense of touch.

Tactile feedback is also a huge security benefit. This is what really doesn't make sense to me about the desire for touchscreens in cars - they're inherently dangerous.


I will say that navigation to an address is much much better with an on-screen keyboard. It is a uniformly HORRIBLE experience with buttons and knobs. Maybe the endgame should be voice, but that can be hit or miss too.


Hah. My car is a 2008, older than most in-car technologies, but when I've thought about replacing it, a big click-knob was going to be a #1 requirement. It just seemed like a mousewheel for car: an instant classic.


Makes me tempted to buy a Mazda. I like the AWD and reliability of a Suburu, but their touch screens are absolute garbage and going from my analog 6-disc changing Honda Accord to driving the much newer Subaru is painful.


I recently bought a new Subaru. It has regular buttons and dials on the dashboard and steering wheel for all the important stuff. The touch screen works fine with Android Auto.


That sounds like a nice setup.


Same reason I hate the MacBook TouchBar. It distracts, requires looking at it, does not give good feedback and is context dependent (buttons move around).


Whole windshield should a screen and we should be able to just wave at it to perform operation or simply talk to it.


You cant wave at it, two hands on the wheel:)


> As a User Experience Professional

May I politely ask - what exactly do you learn to be a UEP (pardon the abbreviation)?


Hopefully you were able to grasp the need for touch screens on mobile devices. Same for cars.


I like my touch screen. There is a lot I can do on it without much distraction. If something is in a sub menu that takes more than a fraction of a second to get to then I wait until I'm on a straight away that autopilot can handle and do it while I'm on autopilot.


> As a User Experience Professional, I was never able to grasp the true user's need for touch screens in cars. For years I have been working on product interfaces (not just apps).

How does this relate to Apple Magic Trackpad with Force Touch?


Sorry, I badly quoted there. Was meant to quote this:

> Many studies I conducted actually told me that people favored analog controls over digital touch screens controls. It gives you tactile feedback, making it accessible for anyone with sense of touch.

Given that Force Touch give a form of feedback (haptic though), isn't that good enough? How many people believe that the Force Touch gives tactile feedback instead of haptic?


They should put screen tactile screen feedback into seat...


Can't wait for pocket computers to follow too.


nope! touch sscreen UI has safety implications inside a motor vehicle.

pocket computer's usage scope is way broader than inside a car, and you REQUIRE the infinite UI possibility provided by a pure touch interface


Still a massive limitation to be expected to use the device eyes on and high attention. I get that this is the trend but it's still not a good qualitative point.


in the context of an automotive interface, I agree with you touch UI is not the best.

I was responding to general purpose computing (smartphone) that the OP was referring to.


> This decision is 100% business driven

It's 100% fad driven. Expect block chain in a car at some point because the future.


Exactly! there's no place for a touchscreen in the car, although many drivers don't know it:/


> That is no way user centric. This decision is 100% business driven and has nothing to do with the end user. It basically means they have given up on developing a good branded interface between the driver and the car.

Genuinely curious: what does the interface being "branded" have to to with the user? To me, focusing on whether their interface is branded would be more business-driven rather than user-centric.


All these tactile controls are going to be deleted in the next decade as self driving cars go mainstream.

This is a foolish move.


Last time I was in a cab it had controls in the back for the AC, a light, the windows etc. - just because I'm not driving doesn't mean I don't want to interact with the car at all.


But you don't need to interact with the car without looking, that's only for those driving, so tactile interfaces don't give much/any gain.


Decade? Psh... Elon says 6-18 months!


Elon Musk is, as usual, right but with the wrong timing.


Should there be an /s tag in there somewhere? I can't tell.


Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: