Apple CarPlay, Android Auto

Via Daring Fireball:

All I could think while watching this movie was «how can this possibly be legal?» Dialling numbers while driving? Receiving notifications1 in your car? Liking songs while on the wheel? And all of this on a super-laggy touchscreen?

I guess there will be an «I’m the passenger» button, and as we know, nobody ever lies when they see those.

People were incensed when Google lobbied to make it legal to use Glass while driving, calling it «reckless, disgusting, and disgraceful», but at least Glass allows you to keep your eyes on the road while interacting with your phone. CarPlay and Android Auto seem ten times worse.

If you think that hands-free, voice-controlled systems actually solve this issue, evidence suggests the opposite.

The study also separately assessed Apple’s Siri (version iOS 7) using insight obtained from Apple about Siri’s functionality at the time the research was conducted. Researchers used the same metrics to measure a broader range of tasks including using social media, sending texts and updating calendars. The research uncovered that hands- and eyes-free use of Apple’s Siri generated a relatively high category 4 level of mental distraction.

And Digital Trends writes:

Researchers at Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that driver reaction times doubled while texting – whether they did it manually or hands-free. Another study conducted by AAA came to a similar conclusion.

I think the National Safety Council has it right:

The auto industry and the consumer electronics industry are really in an arms race to see how we can enable drivers to do stuff other than driving.

This whole thing seems utterly insane to me. Road safety trends are already not doing too well. Every single day in the US alone, about 100 people die in road accidents. The last thing we need is to make driving even less safe.

As Marco put it:

There’s no gentler way to put this: When — not if — distracted drivers using Glass kill others or themselves in accidents, those deaths are now partly on Google.

Unfortunately, unlike Glass, there will be a lot of people actually using CarPlay and Android Auto.

User interface design is not just about how simple something is to use. It’s also about the impact it has on people’s behavior. On this metric, these systems are a complete user interface design failure.


Thibaut Sailly offers this proposal for a vastly improved redesign of these user interfaces:

  1. The whole idea of a notification is to interrupt what a person is doing, and get that person’s attention away from what they are doing. Which is something that should not happen while you are driving. ↩︎

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