Ex-Apple design boss Jony Ive built his career on the back of ultra-minimalist devices with hardly any buttons – but even he thinks the current focus on culling physical controls in new cars has gone too far.

    Speaking at the Code conference in Los Angeles, and reported by The Verge, Mr Ive said infotainment setups in modern cars are an example of technology “being driven inappropriately by something like multitouch”.

    “Potentially the pendulum may swing a little to have interfaces and products that are more tactile and more engaging physically,” Mr Ive said.

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    The car industry has moved to replace the physical controls in new car cabins with touchscreens and haptic sliders, which are cheaper to manufacture than buttons – and easier to replicate across multiple brands or model lines.

    Beneath their clean, modern looks and showroom wow factor though, screens could actually be making new cars more dangerous.

    ViBilagare recently compared the amount of time it takes to carry out basic infotainment functions on a 2005 Volvo V70 with screen-heavy modern cars, and found the 17 year-old family wagon outperformed its more modern rivals.

    In the Volvo, it took the driver 10 seconds to carry out the following tasks:

    • Activate the heated seat, up the temperature by two degrees, activate the demister
    • Turn on the radio and tune it to a set station
    • Reset the trip computer
    • Dim the instrument lighting and turn off the central display

    In the 2005 V70, it took 10 seconds. Times for the modern cars ranged from 13.5 seconds (Dacia Sandero) to 44.9 seconds (MG Marvel R), the latter of which is equivalent to 1.37km of driving at 110km/h.

    Scott Collie

    Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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