3 Things All UXers Must Learn from Apple’s CarPlay

Apple has turned your car into an app.

Apple’s new CarPlay converts your vehicle’s in-car entertainment system into a iOS powered dashboard which allows you access to your phones content.

In keeping with its commitment to UX and UCD, they didn’t just fuel a new user experience for drivers looking to keep up with their quick tasks (messages, maps or phone), they fueled an instinctive new product that addresses a gap in the automotive UI market while playing to their users desire for safety, and accessibility.

So now a user’s iPhone’s quick tasks (no email, videos or access to larger apps) are now available on the road either with a built in interface in some vehicles (as of 2014) or via your car’s existing entertainment system.

From a UX standpoint, CarPlay is Apple’s way of making their UI safer in the car.

The UI works right with the iPhone 5, and iPhone 5S, 5C or with a built in interface in some newer 2014 model cars. It’s a voice-controlled interface which means the user can navigate it easily using Siri and their eyes never leave the road. It exemplifies findability and usability on the road, and will undoubtedly grow its iPhone user communities.

In keeping with three key UX guidelines, Apple’s CarPlay has kept the user’s needs in mind while answering the car for a market improvement.

1. Stay focus on the Solution, not on Design Overhaul

It’s easy to be focused on new and exciting features in design, but with in car system like CarPlay that would be a mistake.

Instead Apple focused on device integration.

It doesn’t require users to learn a new interface.

It’s interactive design allows for a solid user experience which is clearly based on strong feedback and a conceptual design which matches user expectations. Overall CarPlay may be a UX game changer in this particular industry.

When Apple entered the automotive industry, a place where it has been notably absent (for safety and legal reasons), it had to focus on critical design gaps.

2. Make it Intuitive

iPhone users will find the interaction pretty instinctive. It’s a user-friendly design approach that runs from the same platform as their iPhones and requires familiar commands.

In addition to being instinctive and familiar (critical to any UX experience), CarPlay is also anticipatory.

Using the maps feature for example means that apple is guessing where you may be going and giving you appropriate directions based on familiar routes and patterns.

It doesn’t allow for feature overload, which could actually be dangerous in this situation.

CarPlay needed to be intuitive both for solid UX but also for the users safety. With an intuitive and familiar and it’s about hands-free navigation, entertainment, calling and eyes-free texting. Basically anything you need quickly on your iPhone is now available via CarPlay and apple is already building on that user-experience by expanding CarPlay’s capabilities via new apps.

Particularly, they are looking into creating location-centred apps so that it will outperform other competing navigation apps.

3. Captivate

The last task of CarPlay is to captivate the user with quick access to their tasks with little to no learning curve for new users. It does help that Apple has put CarPlay in some of the top name vehicles whose in-dash entertainment left much to be desired. It has definitely moved towards a better automotive UI. It’s definitely done more than plug the automotive infotainment

Apple has been famous for driving the best user experience and setting the UX bar high.

With CarPlay they addressed the problem without hassling their users.

The iPhone is now on wheels with CarPlay and it’s not just hands-free. It’s eye-free as well. Apple is now once again miles ahead of the competition here and have gotten there by being tuned into the customer, tuned into the market, and tuned right into your car.

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Apple CarPlay Maps

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Megan Wilson
Megan Wilson is user experience specialist & editor of UX Motel. She is also the Quality Assurance and UX Specialist at WalkMe Megan.w(at)walkme.com
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