Touch Screens Are Dead, Long Live the Touchpad


Audi’s MMI system, as featured in the A8

While Apple and Google are hard at work integrating their operating systems into car entertainment systems, Audi has already perfected the hardware.

The idea of iOS mirroring on your touch screen and functioning similarly to your iPhone may seem appealing but there are flaws in the concept.

For starters, touch screens in cars are hardly as precise or responsive as they are on phones or tablets. If they are not set back in the dashboard, they also get a bit of a glare in the sun, making them hard to read. Most importantly, they are not located in a convenient spot.

Controlling a touch screen requires a driver to take his/her eyes off of the road and to stretch one arm away from the steering wheel.

Safety first, right? Not so much with a touch screen.

Audi’s Multi Media Interface (MMI) logically places the controls to your infotainment system by the gear shift and the buttons are configured in such an intuitive fashion that there is barely any learning curve to using the system.

Within a matter of minutes of using the MMI, a user will be able to control everything from playing music to making a phone call to setting the navigation without looking away from the road or contorting your body in a dangerous fashion.

Recently, Audi added a new feature to MMI systems on certain model. It is a touch pad that allows drivers to write out data with the tip of a finger. It also serves as a trackpad, not unlike one on a laptop.

Apple has traditionally worked in closed systems, controlling both the hardware and software. However it appears that CarPlay will integrate into preexisting car entertainment systems.

We all know that Apple hates buttons but software is only half of battle. So, Apple’s hope is to control your car stereo through Siri but it is hard to believe that people will easily switch to using Siri or any other shoddy voice control system.

If Apple does not adapt to emerging technologies, like Audi’s touchpad — Audi has partnered up with Google as part of the Open Automotive Alliance but currently uses an iteration of QNX as its operating system — Apple will fall behind Google in the race to conquer your car.

Marcello C. De Feo

Founder and co-ownerr at Untied Magazine
Marcello De Feo started blogging in 2002 as a way to promote his band and stay in touch with friends back east when he lived in Colorado. Over the years, he has owned and run many blogs, the most notable of which was the now defunct FlyersFaithful.com. He currently runs PattisonAve.com, UntiedMag.com and Gearadelphia.com.