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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
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. :)
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.
Computerized fly by wire systems still depend on a pilot in the loop, especially in the case of a mechanical failure.
Several years ago, probably. Now, when their previous car already has a similar touchscreen?
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.
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.
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.
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.
The last car I rented had a 360 degree camera which showed a top down picture of the car and surroundings!
* 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
I support Mazda's efforts here, but there are compelling commercial and engineering reasons to go in the other direction.
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.
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:
> 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.
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.)
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Those sound like good points to me, but I don't know anything about this stuff.
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.
The chasis is your second cable.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Maybe throw in some cheeky DLC to unlock certain features too ;)
Cars already know whether a passenger is present of course.
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.
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.
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 :)
Apparently this was actually changed in an early software update to the TM3, and cruise initially was engaged via the screen though!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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].")
I'm pretty sure that puts you somewhere near the top 0.0000001% of cautious drivers.
(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)
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.
Guess we should go back to paper maps and listening to AM radio.
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 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...
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.
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.
Mazda will walk this decision back as soon as they realize how much money it will cost them... which is a lot.
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/
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.
OTOH, I also evaluate and will not talk if I don't feel comfortable (poor road conditions, etc).
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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...
Some people are:
I'd argue that life is worse since smartphones were invented, on many axes.
Now almost everyone has been turned into a phone zombie. You're wasting your lives people!
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.
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.
The privacy implications alone far outweigh the benefits.
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.
It's a thing when when all your music is already on your phone.
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.
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 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.
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).
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).
Source: I do it
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.
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.
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.
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.
Is this a joke? I find navigating my TV's menus with a remote to be the most infuriating part of using a TV.
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.
It reminds me of the PSP/PSV having a touchpad on the back of the screen.
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.
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?
LOLNO. Not everyone is driving alone.
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.
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.
That video tutorial is now outdated since there has been many UI improvements, but the steps should still be the same.
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.
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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Google must have about 100Gb of recordings of me saying, "OK Google, no, fuck, OK beep, OK Google... fuck, what was I doing again?"
If Nissan kept recordings, they'd have several even worse recordings. Long sequences that fail on the last step are really common.
My Tesla allows me to adjust the AC without looking, using the scroll wheels built into the steering wheel.
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.
My first car had dedicated buttons, which was the correct design.
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 also agree that those scroll wheels are great.
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.
Is there something wrong with that? The BlackBerry form factor is the best one, in my opinion. This reply was written from one.
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.
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'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.
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.)
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.
Furthermore, the keyboard does not significantly impact the size of the screen (it's only about an inch tall), 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).
 The screen is too large for my preferences anyway.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Either you should be driving or on your phone not both.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
just another device which can kill you and others in a split second if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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).
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.
Compare to the cockpit of Space Shuttle: https://i.redd.it/9mj5bcbnzsx21.jpg
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
It seems that the FAA (and Garmin) does not agree with you:
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:
Some things are controlled by the helmet movements.
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.
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.
Is that a genuine benefit, or one that shows up more early in planning and who's downsides show up late?
(I need a term for those cases. Psychological externality?)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
It's a big point in my car buying decision just for the navigation experience alone.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
Meantime the passenger can enjoy the touchscreen.
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.
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.
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.
There is no reason that I NEED to launch Spotify from an actual switch controller...
But it feels so much better to control inputs with hardware. And rotary dials for volume, and many tasks in photoshop are infinitely superior.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
...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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
As a User Experience Professional, I was
never able to grasp the true user's need
for touch screens in cars.
Stage 2: Well, given that we've got this touchscreen, we might as well use it for.....
Initially this was done to save cost, but lately it's removed a severe and justified roadblock to the addition of useless features, IMO.
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.
May I politely ask - what exactly do you learn to be a UEP (pardon the abbreviation)?
How does this relate to Apple Magic Trackpad with Force Touch?
> 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?
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
I was responding to general purpose computing (smartphone) that the OP was referring to.
It's 100% fad driven. Expect block chain in a car at some point because the future.
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.
This is a foolish move.