Pushing Buttons

Touchscreens? Who needs 'em.

As Slate reports, car companies are finally beginning to take notice that touchscreen infotainment systems are a road safety hazard — and above all, that their customers absolutely hate using them.

Case in point, Porsche has phased out its all-touchscreen design of the Cayenne luxury SUV, Slate notes, adding some much-needed buttons back. The new 2024 design still features a central touchscreen, but at least now new owners will no longer have to suffer the ordeal of infotainment-based climate controls.

It's a small victory, as the touchscreen craze has plagued cars for the past decade or so, blurring the line between automaker and tech company. Tesla, in particular, has been leading the charge, prominently featuring giant, tablet-like infotainment systems on their cars' dashboards that control almost all of the vehicles' functions, down to the windshield wipers.

Back in the Game

The problem with touchscreens in cars is that they're just too damn distracting and aren't very good for controlling things, as multiple studies have shown.

Unlike buttons, touchscreens have no tactile feedback so you can't feel your way around them while keeping your eyes on the road. It's the worst of both worlds: a pain to navigate, and a big draw of your attention.

"The irony is that everyone basically accepts that it’s dangerous to use your phone while driving," Matt Farah, a popular car reviewer and YouTuber, told Slate. "Yet no one complains about what we’re doing instead, which is fundamentally using an iPad while driving."

Thankfully, it looks like the industry is beginning to catch on, as consumers and car journalists have been throwing a big stink for years.

Several other automakers have expressed support for adding buttons back, too, including Hyundai and Nissan.

Meanwhile, Porsche's parent company Volkswagen confirmed last fall that it was dropping excessive touchscreen controls on its cars' steering wheels after customers voiced their outrage.

Still, it doesn't look like all automakers have relented on needlessly giant and still distracting infotainment systems.

But hey, what do you expect from an industry that has spent the better part of this century literally reinventing the button?

More on car tech: New Car Has No Rear Window, Just a Camera

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