As a UX Designer, it is important to stay versatile, so as a practice for myself, I decided to try transfer a popular social app into a completely new format and challenge my self how interaction on such a format would look like. Our target is the Instagram app, which we will be porting from a mobile phone into a car.
To begin with, it is worth mentioning that Instagram is not an app you would normally adapt to a car for two reasons, at least not in the current version of cars and their displays.
First of all, it seemingly breaks multiple guidelines of car makers such as Ford, as well as Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto, which do not allow social media apps and moving images according to my research. Secondly, it does not have any clear user case that would warrant the port, as it is not an app driver would have use for when driving, and it lacks the main feature of the app in the car – the camera.
But, ignoring that, if you were to port Instagram to a car, how would it look? For the sake of the exercise, we have to make two assumptions:
1 - First of all, we are not making an app for top of the line cars with huge vertical touch displays like Tesla. They are still rare, and if they were the target, very little would need to have been changed from the current mobile version, as it could gracefully scale up and retain same touch-based interaction. No, we are making an app for an average car with a small 16:9 display on its dashboard, targeting a 960 x 540 resolution by default. If there’s touch, it’s likely low-precision.
2 - Secondly, we have to support navigation with physical controls, such as knob and touchpad, not only touch, so cars without modern touch displays can still use the app. This is a big assumption about the assignment on my part, but it makes for a far more interesting case. The assumed physical controls are previous/next and button press.