The question of whether, and to what extent, cars are like phones has been gently bubbling along over the past few years as we’ve watched the nexus of innovation shifting from the technology we carry in our pocket to that which carries us along the roads. It’s obvious now that cars will experience transformative change like phones did before them, but how many parallels between the two are really there?
If you want to see a company doing its utmost to reduce the complexities of a car down to a familiar phone-like interface, you need look no further than Tesla and its new Model 3. This is the most affordable electric car in Tesla’s stable and it has the most aggressively stripped-down interior — from any manufacturer. There’s a 15-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dash and a couple of buttons on the steering wheel and that’s it. Given how Apple’s iPhone was the phone that made this “one touchscreen to rule them all” interface paradigm familiar in the first place, I thought it’d be fitting to look at the similarities between the iPhone and this new Model 3, as a proxy for answering how similar cars and phones have become.
Buttons be damned
Before the iPhone, phones had as strong an affinity to physical keyboards as laptops still do. The first Android prototypes basically looked like BlackBerrys, and the most advanced smartphones from Nokia (like the 9500 Communicator above) were awkward attempts at marrying the familiar with the new. That stage of evolution is where we find ourselves with car…
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