Thursday, March 01, 2018

Does Anybody Test Drive These Things?

Scroll down the .gif of the touch screen. Fumbling with a couple of knobs and buttons is fine. You get used to them pretty quickly and can use them with no more than a glance, if that. This is like texting while driving.

The first time I noticed this I was using Tesla's semiautonomous Autopilot feature. The controls for adjusting the top speed and follow distance of adaptive cruise control are on the wheel and steering stalk on the Model S and X. They're easy to adjust without looking. On the Model 3 you have to tap the display to adjust the cruise control speed. Even worse, you have to go into a submenu to adjust the adaptive cruise control follow distance. First you tap on the car icon, then find and tap on Autopilot in the screen that pops up. Finally, you adjust the follow distance by tapping plus or minus. That's not even close to a better experience, and it's potentially dangerous, because instead of using muscle memory to find and adjust a physical item, you're reaching and tapping while looking to the right.

I'm not picking on Tesla specifically. This just popped up in the google news. But the last couple of times I've driven cars the touch screen controls have driven me nuts. They're really hard to use while driving, and you shouldn't try (but you have to).

as for this:

As noted earlier, you can enable a single swipe or a cleaning of the windshield via the left stalk. But anything beyond that requires using the touchscreen. The Model 3 does have automatic wipers, which work well most of the time. During a rainstorm, however, it took longer than I was comfortable with to engage and didn't wipe fast enough for my liking. To speed them up, I had to reach over and tap the speed I wanted.

If this were any other car or automaker, that would be it. I'd tell you that these usability issues make an otherwise amazing car a pain to drive. But Tesla's cars evolve while sitting in your driveway, and apparently, it's already working on these issues.

UI improvements are possible, but touch screen controls are just...bad.