• Nov 19th 2007 at 10:04AM
  • 17

Last week we told you about Volkswagen's plan to put touch screens in every one of its cars next year and wondered if maybe this is what Apple had been helping VW sort out.

Well, our brothers over at Engadget did some digging and came up with a video showing VW's UP touch interface in use. Apple fans will immediately recognize the look and feel of the images as very Coverflow or Front Row-like. Apple fanboys will have already seen all this, of course, and put their cars up for sale in anticipation of the new VW lineup (anyone want to by a 2002 Corolla, btw?).

Is this the fabled iCar? Has Apple assisted in the design of VW's new touch interface? While the video shown here is indeed intriguing, don't get excited just yet. Apple's Coverflow is easily imitated, and VW might have only been inspired by Apple's work. Even so, it would be a huge improvement over what VW uses now, and as much of a leap forward for the automotive industry as Apple's iPhone has been for mobile phone companies.

If you know Apple, they're gonna keep this pie as secret as they can until it's fully baked. But we're gonna do our best to keep an eye on it while it's cooking, so stay tuned.

[Source: Engadget]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      This all started with Apple giving out those white apple stickers to people with their computers. People started putting these on their VW bugs and they became Apple cars. Not sure why... People just love expressing themselves with stickers on their cars.
      • 7 Years Ago
      If it is being designed by Apple you can count on two things:

      1) Steve Jobs will call it revolutionary 9,999,999 times in a keynote speech.

      2) It will cost you out the butt.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Oh this is just stupid if it actually make it into production. Apple design or not its another blantant example of overuse of design over function. People will have fun with this when using mittens or glove in the winter.

      It takes people half a second of the eyes of the road to turn off the heat/adjust the temp, how is that an upgrade? A big screen giving out glare at night is also very nice...not.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Good design takes into account function.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "That's just dumb. Unnecessarily complicates the controls. I will never buy another VW as long as they force that down customer’s throats."

      You're not the guy who designed Windows 98 are you?
      • 7 Years Ago
      That does look like Front-Row. But more crude. Apple UI has a lot more detail than that, and usually no extraneous control duplication on the screen. Cover-Flow is similar, but it usually hides most of the non-active album art as you flip through iTunes albums. Front Row has the circular display.

      When the Double-DIN dash computer was shown in Autoblog's SEMA coverage, I posted then that Apple's OS, between Front Row and multi-touch icon driven boiled-down OS like iPhone and iPod Touch use, it would make perfect sense to port that software for use in the ICE system in a car, with car-specific controls.

      The only problem is that those displays, and controlling them, (which I sometimes also wonder about in-car Navigation, cell phones, ad infinitum) is that they distract too much, and are too visually involving, which is one reason perhaps that the interface is not as stylish.

      The distraction, however, is inherent. The current and old radios and media players, and climate controls have had long periods of development, and some more successful efforts than others, but have been button driven.

      Buttons and knobs can be made to be touch-identified. A touch screen requires more visual confirmation.

      Every time you have to look down from the windsheild, it is time spent "heads-down." Fighter pilots deal with this, and it is what a "heads-up" display is all about. Keeping your head up, and your eyes out of the cockpit.

      With more and more gadgets, more and more "features" driver's attention is being distracted down to the dashboard, which can be a big issue in terms of driver reaction and safety.

      Passengers can handle some of that, but it is still distracting to the driver to a point, and sometimes there are no passengers, especially for some commuters who don't or can't carpool.

      I am not saying that a driver is incapable of handling distraction. But at some point too much is too much.

      Also, having a bunch of constantly lit full color LCD screens put out a significant amount of light. Have they figured how that effects light balance, and night vision ability of the driver at night?

      I have been a long proponent of Heads-up displays. I wish more cars had them, on the merits of their features. Paired with steering wheel touch-identified controls, and good software, attention can be drawn up and out of the car, rather than down and in, to the console.

      This does look like Apple software, somewhat... but Apple has a way of shaking up the current paradigm, and bringing out some ingeniously creative new ways of doing the everyday things...

      If they are going to do car-based stuff, I would hope to see truly ingenious new things that we don't even know that we are missing yet.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It looks like a very pretty interface, but totally inappropriate for in-car use. Call me old-fashioned, but in a car, i like real buttons, knobs and levers that i can use with gloves on and with tactile feedback so i can also use them without taking my eyes off the road.

      I absolutely love the iPod touch, but probably 80% of my iPod use is in the car. I'm getting an iPod nano instead, because it's better suited to that environment.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Just as a heads up...

        the ipod nano and ipod touch have no real tactile differences.

        The scroll wheel on the nano is solid state, so it doesn't move. The button presses, but the touch also has a button press.

        BTW, that iPod Touch button, if you press it twice, it immediately brings the ipod control screen to the front, at least that is what I have seen and heard.

        That might be nearly as easy as the ipod nano, maybe.

        I am also considering getting an iPod Touch, as well. I wish I could use it in my car more easily. Subaru decided that they would make the Legacy's stereo un-replaceable, and completely without an input for 2005 and 2006. And fm modulators aren't that great, or easy as plug-in and go.

        THAT is where Apple and other companies, and the Automotive manufacturers can really help the driver. Make things very easy. Bluetooth or data link capability that is seamless and invisible after the connection is made. make things less hassle and less distracting, not moreso.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The main thing i do when the car is in motion is skip tracks. I choose my playlist, artist or album (or hit shuffle all) before i put the car in gear.

        On the nano, i can feel where the scroll wheel is and give it a quick press to skip.

        On the touch, i would have to bring up the interface, and then touch the screen in the right place to skip. I suppose with practice, i could do it without looking, but the learning curve would be distracting.
      • 7 Years Ago
      An ipod like scroll wheel on the steering wheel and a voice-over would be a far better way to navigate these menus than a multi-touch screen (aka iphone) and visual feedback. You need to be able to navigate through the menus without taking your hands and eyes off the road. I would also much prefer this setup in a HUD on the windshield with the mentioned scrollwheel control, that would be cool -and useful.
      • 7 Years Ago
      That's just dumb. Unnecessarily complicates the controls. I will never buy another VW as long as they force that down customer’s throats.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yeah, but it looks awesome, and half the reason people buy cars is for how they look.
        • 7 Years Ago
        VW doesn't care about you. Neither do we.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Have any of you guys ever used iDrive in a 7 series??? You control everything on a screen with it too and also have to have your hand down on a weird knob to turn through things, much easier to just touch the screen. I seriously doubt VW will put this in every car. It is a showcase of what could be done.... I got lost in my brother's mother in law's 7 series.... was on some kind of music controls, it got hot in the car and took forever for me to figure out the menus to get back to the AC adjuster.... all by screen, so the only thing new with this is you can touch it. Better IMO than using some weird mouse knob....
      • 7 Years Ago
      Reminds me of this iPhone spoof:
      • 7 Years Ago
      While I think the iPhone and iPod Touch interface is as much of a breakthrough as the iPhone/at&t deal and service plan are ridiculous, I don't think this is a great interface for the car. Forcing the driver to look at pretty animations and flick his fingers around on pictures without any tactile feedback is not the best way to build control systems for the car. If they leave this for nav and configuration and other not-while-driving things it'll be somewhat helpful, but then they're wasting some of the investment they've put into the interface. I just don't see it being a good idea to drive flat-out on the autobahn and need to stare at a touchscreen to figure out how to adjust the climate control.
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