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Looking at the various video reviews and video adverts, I am starting to get an impression of VW's biggest issue: The incomplete VW OS. I am a tech expert (CTO, with experience in web development, software support, manuals, courses, etc.) and feel fairly qualified to critique without having experienced the real thing.

"Instrument cluster" on the steering column:
This tripartite screen feels largely unfinished, without the polish and cohesiveness of a mature product. The data is there, the developers have obviously given thought to what information needs to be larger and/or colored, but it doesn't hold together, and doesn't leave me with a smile and a nod like looking at the nose of the car or the overall interior does, for example. I like that the display is configurable from the steering wheel, but that does not (and should not) hide the overall design shortcomings.
I'd say this screen is at an alpha stage. That said, I really like the decision of placing it on the steering column. That's one of the really good decisions VW made on the ID series.

Infotainment screen (hate that name, but it's what everyone uses):
The home screen with app icons is a truly bad idea. No data displayed by default means getting to anything useful takes taps, swipes, and worst of all, brain cycles. That is simply uncool in a car. I sure hope the defaults can be changed and saved.
The fact that the icons are recolorable and can be rearranged does not make it any better, it just pretties up the fact that an array of icons is essentially useless, although now colorfully useless. The icons themselves do not look very distinctive on the videos I have seen, and being all the same color makes usability worse. It also does not look like there will be badges on icons, or other distinctions that would carry at least a minimum of information.
Had VW instead followed a widget metaphor, like we see in Android and now on iOS 14, we could configure a home screen with actual data that's ready to go when we get into the car. Instead it looks like we will have to tap and swipe our way to a useful display every time we leave home. Yikes!
There is a saving grace that the rear camera view comes on automatically, and maybe a couple of other information screens will pop in automatically at the right time. Those items are cool and useful.
It is sort of fun to see the swipe gestures, and also the partially working voice interaction, but frankly, I would much prefer a fully functional, minimally intrusive user experience on the screen itself, before fancy other interactions are introduced.
I give the current infotainment screen an F, and judge it to be pre-alpha.

To get an idea of what the user experience can be in a modern car, you can look at Tesla (obviously), but also at Polestar's implementation of Android Auto. The latter looks great and useful at the very first glance.

Taken together, the user facing aspects of VW OS look like someone left a bunch of barely adolescent boys in charge of the tech toys, without adult supervision. It is 2020 Volkswagen, software architecture and design is not that hard anymore, you can do way better! Thank goodness there will be over the air updates, I place all my hopes in those.

I am curious what everyone else thinks?
 

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2021 ID.4 1st Edition (on order), 2012 CC Sport, 1986 Golf (former), 1967 Beetle (former)
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From a menu navigation standpoint, I don't see what should be leaps and bounds from my 2012 CC. This doesn't lead me to much faith that things will improve much. I'm not expecting great things with finger navigation, but would hope that voice takes over.
 

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I have never had any luck with the voice commands in the 3 cars that I have had that had it. I am hoping the ID4 menu navigation will be easier/better than the disastrous iDrive mess in my '16 BMW. I find using the iDrive more distracting while driving than texting. I don't text and drive, so I have had to teach my wife how to use the iDrive when we are traveling.
 

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I'm with you on this Christoph- I get about 50% success on my 2018 Atlas interface after 2 years of going through the motions many times. In addition, like ixlr08, it is not very satisfying trying to retrain my spouse as we are driving because it just doesn't come naturally to either of us. There were press comments a few months ago that this was an Achilles' heel for VW and staffing/accomplishing the task was holding up further development. (Sorry don't have the references marked).
 

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I do agree with a default view and certainly would like it to be customizable. Widgets would be great. Like everyone else, I want a solid, easy to use interface that is responsive, requires minimal steps to get to where I need to be and doesn't take my eyes off the road. Swipe gestures are definitely cool, if they work, but I'd be fine without them. I would like a decent voice interaction system. I'll hold on being critical until the auto experts spend some time in the ID4 and can show us and tell us what they think. VW has to do this right since they are setting the stage for their future, which is an internal target of 22 million EV's by 2028, which most experts outside of VW say isn't realistic (perhaps 14 million). VW is planning to introduce EV versions of all its 300 models by 2030. Hopefully, many of the bugs will be worked out in other countries before we get the ID4 in the U.S.
 

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I am curious what everyone else thinks?
I agree with you and like you I also come from a software engineering background. Having experienced a really bad interface with my Audi Q5 and I don't think it can get worse than that where I'm hunting for buttons and menus and trying to decipher what a menu item means. After 8 years of ownership I'm still sometimes confused by the interface especially since I sometimes don't drive it daily because it's my wife's car.

While the app icon interface is clunky I actually like that rather than invent something complicated they at least have a few easy access screens with everything on it instead of trying to invent deep contextual menus. So while it's clunky and not futuristic you at least know that you can get something you want with a few swipes and touches. On my audi that's just not possible. So to me that's a silver lining. Also they've tried to put the most important screens accessible via very few buttons so I think that's good too. Having said that, as you suggest they could have done a lot better and actually spent time designing it and making it useful. Also agree with the instrument cluster observation. They have taken a first step in making it a display that provides salient info at a 30K foot glance, but it's far too basic right now and looks cheap.

I read that the software team was decimated after diesel gate and the person who took over didn't deliver in time. Since they were on a crunch to get vehicles out this year to address diesel gate they decided to release alpha level software and get sales going in time. I applaud the person who probably recommended that "instead of fixing a complex interface, let's make it simple with a few menus and app icons and worry about making it better later". The alternative may have turned out far worse. They at least got it out to customers with a working version that they are improving after having gone through hell with an organization that was decimated after a company redefining ( and potentially company death) event. As long as OTA updates work well, I'll be happy since I think it's usable while being clunky at the moment and hopefully it will get better over time.

Don't know if you saw this where he goes over the interface in detail on an id3:

While not being entirely intuitive, at least they have implemented some interesting features like customizations etc and I'm fairly happy with the feature set while having reservations about the implementation
 

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I fully expect VW will do a very good job on the software. Having said that, modern cars are becoming rolling computers, especially this fully digital display EV model, and as such I expect there will be a number of firmware updates over time. It won't be as often as say an iPhone iOS, given DOT testing requirements, but still I'm sure the code will evolve to rectify bugs and otherwise improve human interface response.
I would of course prefer they get it right the first time but again consider how often code is updated on all sorts of devices these days. I guess we're all desensitized to software updating. :cautious:
 

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Thanks for posting the video. I was pleased to see that the interface works well and surprised at the features and customization available. That said, it could be more intuitive and implementation could have been much cleaner. I wish it were simpler to use. I would think/hope that future updates would resolve some of these concerns.
 

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Thanks for the video. Feature set looks about the same as what VW had on my 2012 Passat, with EV specific features added. So I don't hold out much hope of any changes. It sure takes a lot of button/icon pressing/swiping to get to some of the features/info, way more than it should in my book. Auto manufactures sure seem to digitizing things that don't need to be, just because they can. Although I am starting to see some manufacturers bringing back knobs and push buttons to control things.
 

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Most of my infotainment needs will be satisfied by Apple Carplay. Especially if/when VW gets on the train of integrating with Apple Maps for routing with charge stations and such.
 

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Talking about how the interface works and about sending out Alpha software, there is a review out there to see how far it will go, which also evaluates the features.


If you look at the underlying hardware, Continental Vehicle Server Connects VW ID. Electric Vehicles you see that VW has layered a VW OS over the top of a Continental OS in a multi node server architecture which I can't find any performance specs for.

Good luck on getting OTA ready for a system which will have multiple firmware and software revisions before a successful OTA can happen. Even in rigorous software houses that is extremely difficult.
 

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I'm not one to flick around infotainment screens frequently. Mostly in the beginning, to set all my...settings, and then it's largely just navigation screen on all the time, with an occasional flip to a media screen to change a source or something. With that in mind, it would be really great to have a default display, say one that has tiles, one for navigation, one for media, and one for battery. Maybe even better, just have the system remember which screen you were on last time the vehicle was operated. If it always defaults to the app screen where you have to always go into a menu to view something, that seems dumb and a less-than-friendly user experience.

The instrument cluster doesn't offend me. It seems a bit small, but I suppose it has all the useful things (speed, battery, navigation/safety/driving aides) info there all the time, and you can choose which items you want large vs. small. Honestly, I don't really want more info in the instrument cluster, except maybe media information (but that would be a nice-to-have, not a must).
 
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