What kind of idiots do they hire to build their electronics UIs?

Discussion in 'Prime Audio, Electronics, and Infotainment' started by Digloo2, Mar 11, 2018.

  1. Digloo2

    Digloo2 Active Member

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    I had a 2012 Prius V that had built-in Nav. I tried to use it once, and it was so frigging confusing and took so long that I just swore it off. There was nothing intuitive about it. I ended up buying an iPad Mini 3 because it fit perfectly in the console area under the shift knob. I used that driving for Uber and Lyft for hundreds of trips. What a godsend it was. And Google Maps is designed amazingly well, too. (Execution has some problems, like when it sends you to an empty lot...)

    I set up the radio, and it wasn't as straightforward as I imagined it would be. After a couple of months, I got a Sirius XM account and boy did that take some fiddling to get stations set up. I cancelled it after 6 months for a variety of reasons.

    A couple weeks ago, I traded this vehicle in on a new 2017 Prius Prime, mid-level version. It has the fancy 11" screen that's hard to read because it picks up reflections from the right side of the car. It needs to be tilted towards the driver. I literally cannot read it while driving home at all because of glare. I have to hold my hand over it to shade it in order to read it.

    MAPPING

    The dealer guys said it's got Google Maps installed for the Nav function, so I tried to set up a trip. Ugh. The UI is designed like an old Garmin GPS I used to have. It sucked. "Enter State", "Enter City", "Enter Address" ... blah blah blah. Wth? This isn't Google Maps! It's a crappy 10-yo $50 GPS device with a big screen! I can pick up my phone, say "OK Google", then say "Flo's Promenade" and it brings up Maps with the location highlighted. I press a button to get a route, then press once more if I want to have it give me audible driving instructions. That's ONE voice command and ONE button press. THIS is how you need the Nav function in a VEHICLE to work.

    But my $30,000 car with so-called "advance mapping and routing" requires so much attention and button presses that if I want to use it, I need to pull over and spend a couple of minutes looking up the actual address for Flo's on my phone BEFORE I can enter it into this "advanced mapping and routing" thingamajig. I will NEVER USE IT AGAIN! It's CRAP!

    AUDIO

    I filled up a tiny 32GB USB drive with 75 or so of my favorite music albums and plugged it into my Prius V. The design of the audio system wasn't very friendly using this storage device, but it worked ok. I had to go in and change the filenames to get it to display things in the correct order, but once I did that, it wasn't too bad.

    So I plugged the same thumb drive into my $30,000 Prius Prime with it's sooper-dooper fancy-schmancy Entune Audio System, and it's HORRIBLE! Who in the hell designs this crap???

    Again, the UI design is so unintuitive and convoluted that it's nearly impossible to use while you're driving. I'm not sure if they designed it this way simply to discourage people from using it, or if they seriously thought it's a great design. IT SUCKS!!!

    AUDIO FROM USB

    I hit "USB" and then it starts playing. If I'm lucky, it starts where it left off, but not always. There's a big chunk of the screen that displays audio settings, and for most of that space, touching it does absolutely nothing. There are settings you cannot set, toggles you cannot toggle, things you cannot activate ... simply by touching the screen. Nosiree, you have to bring up another screen, which I haven't found yet, to change ANY of the audio settings. You'd think that making a display that looks similar to a radio would suggest it WORKS like a radio. NOPE! It's a half-assed design that somebody never quite finished, and a manager somewhere said, "Well, time's up, Fred! We need to ship it NOW!" And here's what we've got ... this thing that seems like it was designed by a 5th grader, with no sense of what someone driving a car might want to see, or how to do anything easily or quickly.

    I thought, "Hmmm, let's pull up 'Dark Side of the Moon'". First, you have to hit a ">" right-arrow a few times and tell it you want an Album. Then it gives you some letter ranges for the first letter -- 'D' in this case. So you select 'D' and there's a list of albums starting with the letter 'D'. Press the album name, and it shows you a list of the songs on the album and starts playing the first one. Oh, wait. That's not the beginning of the album?! Where's the first cut? ... Oh, my ... the songs are sorted alphabetically! I press one and it starts to play it, and changes the display to show a bunch of stuff, including the song name.

    Oops, that's not it. Let me go back to the album listing. Hit the back button and ... it asks you to select an ALBUM again! Wth? Let's hit the back button and go back to the song that's playing ... and ... it closes the entire audio section! But the same song is playing.

    This is reminding me of the Nav function that says, "Enter State", "Enter City", "Enter Address" and if you want to change the address from 1234 W Main St to 1234 E Main St (or 1235 W Main St), you have to go back to "Enter State" and start all over.

    Seriously?

    Select Album, select D, Select Dark ..., ahh, there's the album list again. Song ends, jumps to another song. Wait, that's not the song that it should play next either! Nor was it the next in alphabetical order! Oh, COME ON!!!

    Do the people who designed this player have any clue what an "album" is? It's a collection of songs that are designed to be played in a specific order, NOT ALPHABETICALLY!!! Where's the "order by" button? Buehler? Anybody? Maybe it's on that hidden setup page that I can't figure out how to access.

    But there seems to be no (obvious) was to get from the currently playing song display back to the list of songs on the album. There's only a "Browse" button that takes you back to SELECT ALBUM.

    I bet they charged me several thousand dollars for this PIECE OF CRAP NAV AND SOUND SOFTWARE. I'd send it back and demand a refund if I could.

    CONCLUSION

    Sadly, we customers are STUCK WITH THIS HORRIBLY CRAPPY SOFTWARE until the car dies, because even though there's a computer running it all, there's no way to change any of it.

    This is a 2017 model year Prius, and the electronics is actually WORSE than what was in my 2012 model year Prius.

    Did anybody at Toyota ever think of spending a few minutes talking to customers and getting design feedback on their software? Given that the overall design quality has gotten WORSE over the past 5 years, I can't see how they would have.

    I seriously feel like gluing my iPad Mini 3 over the top half of this useless display -- on top of a wedge that tilts it to face me rather than the mythical viewer sitting on the middle console who's not even the driver.

    It runs Google Maps flawlessly, responds to my voice requests, and it has Apple's maps and any other mapping function I want to load in.

    And while I generally dislike iTunes, at least they know what an ALBUM is and how to organize the songs and play them in the correct order. And it doesn't try to simulate a 20-yo car radio with lights that you can't touch to change.

    Come to think of it, I don't even recall seeing an audio input jack anywhere. Did they take that away, too?
     
    #1 Digloo2, Mar 11, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2018
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  2. Bob Comer

    Bob Comer Active Member

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    I don't dislike it quite as bad as you do, but it certainly is not a very good system! The glare and UI, plus a bluetooth volume problem are my complaints. As for audio in, USB or bluetooth "works".

    I listen to audio books over USB most of the time. And yes, it forgets where it was occasionally. I've never figured out why.

    It's a good thing I like everything else about the car. :)
     
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  3. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sunday driver DIY’r

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    Our 2010 Canadian Touring has an audio jack, and NO screen. I'm happy as a clam. :)
     
  4. Digloo2

    Digloo2 Active Member

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    BTW, I forgot to mention that I'm a software developer myself. It just galls me to see situations like this where a vendor has a total lock on a software-based mechanism, and they make a deliberate choice to NOT UPDATE ANYTHING ... for YEARS ... other than "branding".

    Most of their marketing fluff and things they put into their public-facing investment documents invariably have claims about how they improve their products from year to year based on customer input. But when it comes to certain subsystems like this, they do nothing. They rely on whatever the vendors who supply their subsystems for them choose to do.

    In the future, they say they'll be adding this and that, features that give consumers more control, but while that has probably been in the works for years, they've made no plans to accommodate prior customers who are clamoring for these features, and have been for years.

    One thing that sets Tesla apart from pretty much every other car manufacturer in the world is that they acknowledge that software is what makes their vehicles go, and they've built software updates into the core of their vehicle designs. So they can download a new upgrade and you now have 10% better battery efficiency, for example. Or they download an upgrade to the Nav or Audio subsystem that lets customers have a better experience.

    Toyota, like most others, is using 10-20 year-old technology in their Nav and audio subsystems simply because that's what their vendors deliver. It's just a non-issue to them. They didn't develop it themselves, they don't care what customers think of it or say, and they have no way to make changes even if they did. So of course, there's never any discussion about this in any reviews. It's just a given from one year to the next.

    As a VEHICLE to get me around in the world, it's a GREAT VEHICLE!

    As far as "creature comforts" go, the Nav and Audio subsystems are two things I interact with regularly -- or I would if they worked better. Given the poor quality of these designs, I'd rather they just leave them out, cut the price by $2500 or whatever overinflated price they charge for these horrible excuses for "advanced technology", and let us use our phones. Heck, I'd pay $600 for a dedicated iPad just to plug in and use as the primary controller instead of this useless crap they give us that we can't replace, can't upgrade, can't shut off, and pretty much can't use unless we're doing what the car was not designed to do -- sit still pulled over somewhere while we spend several minutes poking needless stuff into a screen that's simply too dumb to do what 100% of the smartphones on the market have done for several years now. And they call this "advanced technology" ... HA!
     
  5. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    i thought you could enter a destination verbally?

    btw, if you have been a prius owner for awhile, you really should have been aware of the infotainment carpiness.
     
  6. Digloo2

    Digloo2 Active Member

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    I drove for Uber and Lyft for a while, and I picked up a guy once who was obsessed with the Prius in general, and talked nonstop about the Prius V -- because he owned one as well. He was going on and on about all of the amazing features it has, and rattled off more stuff than I could comprehend. One thing he mentioned was the AMAZING voice recognition and control features it has. When we arrived at his destination, he just sat there and kept going on and on. His wife got out of the car, and after 10 mins or so came back and banged on the window for him to get out! He got out and STILL kept talking. Whew.

    There are a few things in life I get obsessed with, but never my car. Not that much!

    Sadly, I was never able to get the VR stuff to work very well. I tried to use it with the audio, and it rarely found anything I asked for. It imposes a very constrained way of making requests. It's nothing like how chatbots have been designed for the past decade, and how Google, Alexa and Siri work. I want to focus on the result I want, not how to request it in the "proper format".

    And yes, I'm aware of the infotainment crapiness that I saw in my 2012 model. This is a 2017 model. That's more than three generations of smartphones. And yet the 2017 has the same crappy infotainment software that was present 5 years earlier, and probably 5 years before that. They keep putting new lipstick on this pig and saying how much better it is from one year to the next, when the underlying technology is the same. At least this one has a faster CPU and more responsive touch-screen than the 2012 model had.
     
  7. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    kinda like microsoft...
     
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  8. Bob Comer

    Bob Comer Active Member

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    I'm also a software developer, I think that's common around here for some reason. :)
     
  9. Darken

    Darken Active Member

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    Wow. that was a heck of a rant on the 'entertainment' system. If I had that much venom towards it I doubt there would be any way I would have considered the car or at the very least stepped down to the plus version instead. I don't disagree with the points you made but everything you mentioned would have been apparent from a simple test drive. It was obvious to me from the first minute of my drive that the big screen was more flash then substance. Both dealers I drove one at made an effort to point out the wow factor from it, when all I was thinking was 'meh' its not something that impressed me one bit. I brought a usb drive to test the radio and made sure to try as many of the features as possible so as not to be disappointed later. After all who wants to pay $30,000+ for a vehicle and then have buyers remorse about some aspect of the purchase down the road.

    For me the system works despite its obvious flaws. Perhaps I'm used to crappy car Nav systems but I only use the in car one for visual cues of where I am as opposed to turn by turn directions. The USB audio works fine for me and navigating was easy with the alphabetical listing. I usually just shuffle my music anyway so playing an album in order is not important to me. Bluetooth music, Radio and Satellite work just fine as well. In general the system does its job, it's definitely not flashy nor does it feel on par with the rest of the technology in the vehicle, but it does the job most need it to.

    Fortunately it seems Toyota is finally getting into Apple Carplay and Android Auto with the new Corolla hatchback, RAV 4 and Avalon. It's too late for those of us who are prime and prius owners but I guess there is hope for the future ;)
     
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  10. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sunday driver DIY’r

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    I look on the "screen" as a black hole, ostensibly for the new stuff, but also sucking in more and more functions that were traditionally controlled by ergonomic/tactile manual controls, that were designed with some care, to allow you to keep your eyes on the road.
     
  11. KK6PD

    KK6PD _ . _ . / _ _ . _

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  12. dubit

    dubit Senior Member

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    Couldn't have said it better, but maybe would add that if he's that unhappy, then he shouldn't have purchased it. But since he did, then it's his own fault he's unhappy. Not Toyota's.

    Since he likes Google maps, why not just buy a cellphone mirroring kit from Beat-Sonic.

    BeatSonic USA
     
    #12 dubit, Apr 7, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2018
  13. KennyGS

    KennyGS Senior Member

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    I curse at my "Entune" every day I'm in the Prius, and have been on the verge (many times) of yanking it all out to replace with a new aftermarket unit with Apple Carplay. I just know how painful it will be to do the actual work, which stops me from actually doing it. I know many of us have bitched about this in previous threads. Maybe Toyota has finally paid attention? I guess we'll see in next generations...?
     
  14. RobertZ

    RobertZ Member

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    OP,
    My sentiments exactly!
    As Jobs famously said about Microsoft...
    "The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste. And I don't mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way"...

    Same can be said whoever designed this infotainment system.
    Toyota designs great reliable cars, I have been buying them since 1983 and love them...
    When it comes to navigation or audio system not so much.
    There is this great hardware but UI just does not work.
    For the record I bought this car for commute/gas milage and it does a great job but I don't use GPS or audio system much...
     
  15. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Sunday driver DIY’r

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    Just for debate: if one or more of the manufacturers "walked away" from this infotainment race, or at least offered one level without all this crap, nothing but ergonomic controls for the basics, I wonder how that would go? Would it die on the vine, or?

    I suspect it's not possible, and too late, but hey...
     
  16. RobertZ

    RobertZ Member

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    I wondered about that too!
    If it saved $ some will opt for simple interface..

    I think people want features but in a usable way!
    Apple car play is the right direction.

    My vision would be provide touch screen access direct to my phone and show my phone apps.
    Integrate sound for car radio functions with phone app sound...

    Use 1/2 the touch screen for car controls.
     
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  17. RRxing

    RRxing Senior Member

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    What kind of idiots do they hire...?

    "Only the finest!" (From Home Alone 2)
     
  18. pilotgrrl

    pilotgrrl Senior Member

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    If you ask me, Toyota is not in the infotainment business, which is why the system is suboptimally designed.

    Given that they wouldn't be able to please all the people all the time, I would suggest they have UI and UX designers in Asia, North America, and Europe work with drivers to find out how they interact with these systems, what they want from the systems, what they like and what they dislike.

    That would go a long way toward correcting the problems. All the complaining about "it's not Android Auto/Car Play/Waze/whatever" won't solve anything.

    Toyota has to do the heavy lifting. It's true that almost every reviewer complains about it, it's time they start taking it more seriously.

    It's pretty outdated to see companies choosing to build vs buy, especially since there's so much good software that's readily available, fit for purpose, and easily customizable.

    It's not like the Jurassic era of IBM mainframes and COBOL any more.

    Disclaimer: I am not a programmer, I'm more a network person, currently doing Android tech support.

    Posted via the PriusChat mobile app.
     
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