Kelley Blue Book is a widely read website dedicated to helping car buyers make the best choices, and in a recent test of luxury in-car infotainment systems, Jaguar’s HERE-powered InControl Touch Pro came out on top. Kelley Blue Book’s Zach Vlasuk tells us more.
What makes a good infotainment system?
“I created a template about three years ago, and we break it down into a few different categories. Most of it’s split between objective and subjective, and we break it up into interface, navigation, and pretty much any other miscellaneous categories like Android Auto or CarPlay. The overriding criteria is ease of use; we are not a tech company, we’re a car buying and car shopping media company, so for us ease of use always reigns supreme.
“With Jaguar Land Rover's InControl Touch Pro, because of how fast it is, the interface is very similar to that of a smartphone. A few manufacturers have tried that, but because they’re traditionally sluggish it’s actually quite dangerous. Because InControl Touch Pro is fast, there are customisable tiles and it’s a very large display, even if you’re driving on [very bumpy] roads, you can still accurately hit the tile you’re looking for. That’s what really stood out to us.”
Why is that similarity to smartphone apps a good thing?
“We figure that only about five per cent of the car buying population are enthusiasts - the rest are just buying cars for transportation. So for them to learn another new interface after they’ve already become accustomed to the interfaces of their personal devices is really contradictory to our whole ease of use mantra. That’s where InControl Touch Pro shines, you can get into the vehicle and be immediately familiar with it, there’s not a steep learning curve and that’s going to foster additional safety behind the wheel.”
What made InControl Touch Pro stand out from the crowd?
“With the JLR InControl Touch Pro system, I was really impressed with the hardware. There are quite a few infotainment systems in the luxury market that pack all these different features in, but they try and cut corners on the hardware side. Ultimately, when they keep adding updates, features and applications, you end up with software that was never designed to run on such a weak hardware platform.
“There’s a quad-core processor in there, a decent-sized solid state drive, the large touchscreen display, all the customisable tiles are big and easily discernable. The masses need something that’s easier to use than their cellphone. They need a system that’s not distracting, which is important because we have a lot of issues with people trying to tap a particular button and hitting something else and it just takes away two to three seconds of eye contact with the road - that’s a huge danger.
“There’s obviously a lot of solid R&D that went behind the InControl System, and I’m glad to see it was done right the first time, rather than just ‘we have a bunch of technology we’re going to throw at this system and when the customers complain, we’ll tweak it’. That seems to be the way a lot of these systems are built. I’m glad to see that JLR listened to what customers want, and as a result InControl Touch Pro is something that’s easy to use, it’s fun to use regardless of whether you’re an advanced driver or a technophobe.”
How have the latest infotainment systems improved over older systems?
“People were overwhelmed by the amount of technology on infotainment systems, they weren’t using many of the features - a lot of Americans still just use terrestrial radio in the car - and if they’re just throwing all this technology at them, hundreds of different menus, different apps and confusing navigation, it’s just overwhelming and people refuse to use it. If the task you’re trying to achieve behind the wheel is more difficult to use through the multimedia system, you’re going to use your cellphone.
“Now, with something like InControl Touch Pro, because the HERE-based navigation is so good, because it’s so easy to use, it’s something that people will be more inclined to use and leave their cellphone in their pockets. We often don’t see a lot of effort go into native navigation systems, it just seems to be the same thing every year by a lot of the manufacturers, but with updated graphics.”
Until you have fully cached maps by Google and Apple, CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t going to take over native navigation any time soon, and that’s what’s so good about InControl Touch Pro’s HERE navigation.”
What would you improve about JLR’s infotainment system?
“With InControl Touch Pro, you kind of know what you’re getting into before you’ve even used it a lot. Honestly, there really isn’t anything I’d like to see changed or updated other than the inclusion of Android Auto or CarPlay, just to say you guys have absolutely everything. Although the mapping service is so good it really isn’t necessary.
“The HERE navigation is a premier mapping service that automakers are dying to use, because it is so robust, it’s so accurate, the graphics are beautiful and it incorporates transit directions; it does a lot of stuff these legacy systems does not - it’s a vehicle-friendly, fully-fledged navigation system that’s easy to use. Other than the cost, InControl Touch Pro is really how I would design an infotainment system. I’ve been in this field for quite a while, and as far as touchscreen infotainment systems go, this is the new benchmark.
“A bad infotainment system can really make a good car mediocre, but a good infotainment system can make a bad car pretty good. A good infotainment system connects you to the vehicle in a way that most systems can’t, and if it’s easy to use that connection is instantaneous.”