My dream smartphone launcher for driving

While Apple CarPlay and Google Auto are both really amazing, they suffer from one problem — you can’t use them unless you take your eyes off the road. This may be subtle, but it can also be very dangerous, as people might actually die as a result of drivers not paying attention to the road.

But is it even possible? designing a great mobile UX that you can use with even without changing where you look? Well, of course. but only if we keep things simple.

The Product is also the Minimum Viable Product

I thought about what I need from my phone while I’m driving. The most imprtant things for me is of course to make phone calls. When I’m using my phone today it’s exhausting. I need to pass through all of these stages before I can make one phone call and speak:

Usually I only call my girlfriend, my mom or my best friend, but I still have to go through all of these stages in order to make a phone call. Verrrrrry complicated.

Next, since I don’t believe in texting while driving, is the need to control music.

Last but not least, is navigation. Getting directions from where I’m located to home/school/work/other.

Thinking about a solution

Since I’m a designer with some UX knowledge, I decided to try and design a solution. My solution might have some flaws — as I didn’t do a proper research, user testing, etc, but it offers some creative ideas that adress the problem — we don’t want drivers taking their eyes off the road.

So we have 3 main features we want to have in our new car app, and we also want people to easily use it without having to look at the device.

The easy solution is to depend heavily on voice commands. While it’s a solid solution, that both Apple and Google use, we obviously still need the ability to do everything with our hands. Voice recognition has many flaws.

The user needs to be familiar with only three features. Dialer, Navigation and Music. In order to use them, he needs to easily locate them, so lets put the dialer and the navigation in the corners of the device. As for the music, there are many controls we’ll need — Volume up/down, Pause/Play, Next/Prev etc… These are too many controls to have when we can’t look at the app. So we’ll use gestures.

Actual Concept

Here is a basic mockup that demonstrate what I’ve been thinking about.

Even without looking, it will be very easy to press the bottom of the screen to dial, or the top of the screen to navigate.

The way to actually make a call, is to press the bottom of the screen, and then swipe left/right/up to call your requested contact.

This whole process is just one tap+swipe. No unlocking, waiting, looking, searching. Just remember to swipe up when you want to ask your wife about her day.

Receiving a call is also extremely simple - Just one tap at the bottom to accept, and one tap at the top to decline (Muting is simple enough using hardware buttons). Yes, the buttons are huge, but you want the user to locate them with the least effort possible.

The important thing here is that the phone needs to automatically switch to speaker mode once a call is made.

If we want to implement navigation, it can be almost the same, except that the user will use the top of the screen instead.

The locations should be saved before driving, the road is not a place to start messing around with the Google Maps UI.

If a friend wants to send us his location in an IM app, it would be a good experience to receieve it just like we receieve phone calls, with one-tap.

Now it’s time for the new gestures for music control! We want them to be easy and we don’t want them to interrupt the other features. We want to be able to tap anywhere on the screen, and make sure that the correct action is made. This can be possible if we use two fingers gestures. It will make sure that when you just tap on the screen, it won’t make a phone call, and won’t launch navigation. Here’s an example:

The reason I did all that, is because I think drivers are messing around with their phones waaaay more than they should. It happens so many times that the driver in front of me didn’t notice the green light, and I saw him looking at his phone, probably texting or checking his Facebook feed. Really, I can’t say you shouldn’t make phone calls while driving, but your screen should not have more features other than the basic ones. And also — the UI for drivers should not look or act the same as for the average users.

Drive safe.

If you were inspired by this and want to implement this concept as an android launcher — feel free to contact me. I’ll be more than happy!

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