Legendary iPhone Designer Jony Ive Is Not a Fan of Touchscreen Controls in Vehicles

Jony Ive, who introduced the multitouch interface with the first iPhone, does not believe cars should rely on touch controls. In a recent interview, Ive expressed his belief that physical buttons will make a comeback to car interfaces.
Legendary iPhone designer Jony Ive is not a fan of touchscreen controls 6 photos
Photo: Glenn Lindberg/Vi Bilägare
Sir Jony IveTouchscreens in modern cars can’t hold a candle to physical buttonsBMW iDrive 8BMW iDrive 8Jony Ive and Apple CEO Tim Cook
Car companies rushed to bring the iPhone-like touch interface to infotainment systems in their vehicles. Nevertheless, touchscreens are often criticized for the lack of feedback and for causing distraction. Jony Ive, the man credited with designing the touch interface on the first iPhone, seems to agree and wants more physical interaction in vehicles instead of touch controls.

Jony Ive left Apple in 2019 to found his own design firm, but we know he spent some time tinkering with the Apple Car project. A year ago, Ive’s company started a partnership with Ferrari for a mysterious project that could be anything from supercars to apparel. It looks like Sir Jony Ive knows a few things about cars, and his predictions should be taken seriously.

Talking about design trends during a panel with Tim Cook and Laurene Powell Jobs at Vox Media’s Code conference, Jony Ive mentions the prevalence of multitouch interfaces. Nevertheless, he thinks the touchscreen use may have gone too far in some use-case scenarios, with vehicle infotainment systems being the prime example. Ive spoke about a possible shift back toward physical controls.

“Potentially, the pendulum may swing a little to have interfaces and products that are more tactile and more engaging physically,” said Ive, according to The Verge. Journalist Kara Swisher suggested that cars might be an example of where multitouch has been overused, to which Ive responded, “for example.”

Jony Ive is perhaps right, as the auto industry insiders already talked about ditching touchscreens in favor of more physical buttons. Matthias Junghanns, the chief of BMW i interior design, recently said that “these black glass surfaces” should be abandoned. His views were also shared by Conny Blomme, Polestar’s Interior Design Manager. On the other hand, Tesla presses ahead with deleting all the possible buttons, including those on the steering wheel and the stalks.
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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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