In-car User interfaces: who does it better?

In-car User interfaces: who does it better?

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In this article we’re going to analyze the current state of UX and UI design in cars, focusing on tech companies such as Apple, Google and Tesla.

Today’s consumers have grown accustomed to high-quality digital experiences via their mobile devices. The beautifully designed apps and services they consume provide them with always-on access to their personal information, they are also used to constantly getting more value through regular feature updates.

In order to provide the same kind of digital human experience to the users, automotive companies need to improve the user interface inside the next vehicle generation.

Adding digital screens and human-interfaces to the interior of a car, allows data from mobile devices and from the cloud to be fully integrated into the core driving experience – the manufacturers that give car buyers what they want by turning this data into personalized services that continue to improve over time will benefit from higher customer satisfaction.

Defining user experience inside cars

According to Raureif GmbH, User Experience is everything related to on-screen GUI  (Graphic User Interfaces) in cars. The on-screen user experience in the latest car models could be divided into these categories:

  • Entertainment and communication: The UI related with UI for music, telephone, messaging, web, third-party apps. These features are accessed mostly through the display located in the center console…
  • The dashboard UI for the tachometer, warning, driving assistance, and other controls related to driving.
  • Everything else, such as climate control, general settings and other car settings.

 

car ux by use case

Car Play is already working

user interface car-ux car play

Car Play is a product made by Apple, which is a streamlined way to connect an iPhone to your car’s infotainment system, letting you access smartphone functions like music, messaging, calls, navigation, etc. The user interface has been designed in order to simplify the user experience, the dimensions of icons and buttons has been increased in order to make the navigation easier through the UI. If you are an iPhone user, in this system you’ll find less applications in order to prevent any kind of distractions and car crashes.
To sum up, CarPlay is a smart and secure way to use your phone while driving.

Down below you’ll find some screenshots of Car play’s UI.

user interface car play ux

user interface car play ux

One app, two ways to use Android Auto

Google has also developed its own app called Android Auto. It gives you access to many functions such as phone calls, messages, music and Google Maps. In other words, having Android Auto integrated with your car is like driving with Google in the passenger seat.

user interface car-play-andorid
The user interface of Android auto is inspired by Google Now – at the very bottom of the user interface there is the navigation bar, which houses the most used functions, such as phone calls, audio controls and google maps.

It’s like driving with Google in the passenger seat

Without even having to think about it, Android Auto suggests directions on where you might want to go. This feature is based on recent searches or a daily routine.

So, if you are an android phone user you will find this UI very familiar. Android auto is available also for mobile, so if you do not have a car that supports this service, you can always use it through your phone.

Tesla – the best infotainment system on the market

Tesla cars are built on a giant touchscreen display, which gives you access to every function and settings of the car. If we compare it with Car Play and Google Auto, Tesla infotainment system does not require a direct USB connection with the smartphone and that’s great!

ux car infotainment -tesla

The latest interface has a simpler and cleaner approach, the user experience has improved a lot.

In fact, now you can place two different functions in different panes at the same time, for example navigations and media, in order to have everything under control. Thanks to the giant display you have also access to car settings, such as lights, doors, sunroof, etc.

ux-car-infotainment-tesla.jpg
What will happen in the near future?

Apple and Google are both partners and rivals of car companies in this race, and it is becoming challenging for manufacturers to avoid offering their services because consumers already have a long history with these companies’ ecosystems. Car companies have realized that by investing in digital design, they can provide outstanding digital user experiences and leverage the added value of deep integration with the key elements of the driving experience.
Will they be able to differentiate and deliver connected car experiences to rival those of their competitors, as well as Apple and Google?
Feel free to express your thoughts about this topic by leaving a comment down below.

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Stefano Planatscher

Junior UI / UX designer | Mockup lover & Invision maniac | Technology junky

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