Feb 13, 2013 — by: Karl Johnson


When the iPad first came out, we saw people mounting them onto the dash of their cars and trucks. They did same thing when the iPad mini came out as well. Were the automakers watching?

When T-GAAP went to the Portland Auto Show, we wanted to find out if the automakers were starting to add better iPad or iPhone integration like we have seen with these individual mounting attempts. What did we find?



We found the automakers were watching, but they are taking it in the opposite direction. Instead of coming out with better iPad or iPhone mounts and integration, they are adding LCD displays everywhere in and on the dash. Some of these displays use cheap touch technology display that are hard to use, especially when driving. Others use cursors and joysticks to select items on the display. These are even harder to control in the car. Automakers are putting everything from navigation and climate control to current speed into these displays.

The hardware is bad enough, but the software takes interface design to a whole new level of ugly. These things are so hard to navigate and control it makes Ikea furniture look like a walk in the park to build. When will they learn they don’t now how to design software?

It only takes one manufacture to realize that they can’t build these things with cheap parts and horrible interfaces. That one manufacture could switch to an iPad with apps for the vehicle, which would completely change the industry for the better.

The military realized long ago not to overwhelm pilots in aircraft cockpits. Apple too has learned not to overwhelm users with complicated and hard to use products. The automakers have not listened and are moving to a very complicated and distracting automobile cockpit. When will they learn?

The real reason that car makers are putting clunky technology into their new cars is because they can charge large amounts for these displays and they are trying to find a way to visually differentiate themselves from other car companies.  They are not willing to outsource this technology development to companies that really know how to build it effectively, but feel the need to create their own technology.

Instead of building technology into a car that will be outdated long before the car is at the end of life, the car manufacturers should be looking at how to make sophisticated mounts for the latest technology and thinking ahead about how to make these mounts adaptable to technology now and into the future.  

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