BMW - UX ANALYSIS & PROTOTYPE (APP & INFOTAINMENT)
1. To produce and develop UX solutions for BMW’s iDrive – the infotainment system. There are four functions to improve and design for, these are:
- Device Connectivity
- Communication (calling)
- Virtual Key
2. Create a working prototype for each tasks, as well as a promotional video showcasing them.
Timeframe: 10 weeks
“Consumers want cars that bring the communication & entertainment capabilities of their phones into their cars.” (Consumer Reports, 2017)
The biggest competitors in this industry with the most satisfied users are Tesla and Audi (MMI). One of the reasons Tesla users are very satisfied is because of the size of the infotainment display. A bigger screen makes it easier, for the driver especially, to see information, to find whatever function they need, and lessens the chances of making mistakes by pressing the wrong button or when using the keyboard. Other competitors fall short for many reasons, like the system being overly complicated, outdated UI, costly packages, touch screen responsiveness and difficulties, and other issues that distract the driver more than they help. These make up the majority of the users’ pain points. Another user frustration includes start-up time; some infotainment systems require some time to start, and this can be especially frustrating when the user is in a hurry or needs to make an urgent phone call for example.
There are numerous technologies that can be implemented to enhance the overall in-vehicle user experience; the most promising being voice control. A common technology is touch screens. Automakers are now teaming the touch screens with rotary controllers to aid in on-screen navigation and touch pads to write on. These are notably seen in BMW and Audi vehicles. Others include gesture control, heads-up display, virtual cockpits, sensors, and so forth. However, with the introduction of new technologies, greater security risks and more limitations come with it. For example, vehicles are being teamed up with respective mobile apps and this can pose as a major security risk when critical system functions are being handled through a third party.
BMW introduced a mobile app & worked on adding more features to the vehicle and its infotainment system in an attempt to ride the innovation wave of the automotive industry, but it fell short to say the least. This is due to a number of reasons; some of them being:
- The obvious inconsistency of the design between the apps and the infotainment system.
- The low ratings & dissatisfied reviews of users (it apparently does not work).
- Discrepancies between Android and iOS.
- Gesture control is not ideal when driving.
The infotainment automotive market is growing exponentially as the world is becoming more digital and users are growing more attached to their mobile devices; which is how we saw the introduction of mirroring apps like AndroidAuto and Apple CarPlay. Previously, while vehicles take up to 5 years to go through the production process, the infotainment UI and software inevitably fall behind the hardware. Moreover, ‘these were often very technology-pushed ideas instead of user-focused, as it is very hard to predict future user-needs’ (Medium, 2018), and ‘the result is that infotainment systems are routinely ranked as the least satisfying feature for car owners’ (ContentSquare, 2019). However, automakers today are putting UX design in the forefront. UX in this industry has become a very important factor that would easily make or break a car’s infotainment system.
Target Audience & Personas
The main platforms are the car’s infotainment system and the BMW Connected mobile app.
The user’s mobile phone is a major part of the experience in their vehicle, and it is essential for functions like the virtual key and communications. As for the infotainment system, it is important for the navigation and for communication. The infotainment will work hand-in-hand with the heads-up display. The design outputs will mainly consist of voice control, however, there will be use of the heads-up display for navigation and calling, and minor use of the virtual cockpit.