This month, SBD has carried out a UX evaluation of the China
market Weltmeister EX5 infotainment system 'Living Engine' as part of the Connected Car UX Evaluation series of
reports. We were also able to take the opportunity to preview the new
Android Automotive system in the Polestar 2, which made for an interesting comparison. We will be evaluating this system in full next year following its launch.
A number of similarities are evident: both cars are EVs with Android-based
systems, each of which demonstrates an innovative UI
approach - one design-led, the other somewhat more conservative.
(Office-safe: Audio will not play on this video)
The Polestar 2 EV is set to be the first car to launch with
Android Automotive when it goes on sale next year. The driver’s phone is used
as a key to access the car and the system launches when the driver’s seat
senses a driver. The instrument cluster is intended to show immediate
information to the driver, while the central display shows less critical
content. Featuring a large portrait orientation display, the central screen is
divided into four main user selected tiles (in the example Maps, consumption,
phone and Spotify) each containing a link to the app, summary information (e.g.
duration, distance and arrival time for navigation) and shortcuts to common
tasks as well as the ability to swipe to see further apps in that tile if
configured. Along the bottom of the screen is a permanent HVAC panel, and four
shortcuts are provided along the top for cameras, a full app list, user profile
and car settings. Apps run in the main screen area occupied by the four tiles
and the system offers fast and generally accurate voice recognition which can
control vehicle settings in addition to standard system functions. Maps has
integration for estimated remaining battery charge at the end of a route
(taking account of live traffic) and can show all charging stations on the way.
SBD says - From initial impressions, the system appears fast, stable and
quick to learn, although SBD has concerns over some elements - such as the
prioritisation of user profiles (which is likely not to see significant use
compared to the other apps), some hidden functionality, a high level of clutter
on the home screen and a lack of harmonisation, for example between the core
system and the car configuration screens which appear to be closer in design to
the previous Sensus system.
Initially the Weltmeister (WM) demonstrates a similar configuration to Android Automotive, the
user can enter the car using their phone as the key and the driver’s seat
senses the driver. The screen is also similar: tablet-style in portrait
configuration, although this can auto-rotate to landscape for media viewing.
The most significant difference is the interface: rather than the staid square
tiles, the WM’s screen is mostly bubbles. The main menu shows three large
bubbles containing a main link, each with several smaller child bubbles
attached, containing related tasks or context sensitive suggestions. Despite
the significant difference in design, these are very similar in function to the
tiles of Android Automotive. The bottom left corner of the screen when pressed expands to show
all other options, again in bubble format. The WM features biometric
identification of the driver using a camera for passive login (failing that, a
QR code can be used) which can also link the user to other 3rd party
SBD says - The system is impressive and gives the feeling of a
futuristic interface. However, hardware quality leaves room for improvement both
in terms of perceived quality and processor capability, as the system exhibits
significant lag, particularly in navigation. Overall, it feels like many other
China market systems – highly capable but suffering from an aggressive de-speccing
process which has had a negative impact on the performance, quality, and overall
UX and perception of the product.