Volkswagen will reintroduce buttons to dashboards because everyone hates the touch controls

Touch controls in cars suggest an industry fault line where safety got locked out out of design considerations. They are so hated by customers, critics and experts alike that VW is reportedly adding buttons back to forthcoming models, though the "infotainment" consoles remain.

This is reassuring for the simple fact that actual buttons just work. The touch sliders and whatnot in the Mk8 Golf and ID.4 are finicky, only operating like they should some of the time. They also aren't backlit, making them difficult to find and use in the dark. Owners and professional critics alike have been tough on modern VWs for these exact reasons; my co-worker Jerry Perez went as far as saying the ID.4's tech "ruined" what was an otherwise practical and livable EV.

The thing that shocks me about in-car infotainment systems is how slow and hinky they are compared to Apple and Android devices. Check out this review of the 2021 VW ID.4 and its extremely bad one:

"It's awful, likely the worst I've ever come across. I was never able to find a channel list for the XM satellite radio because there isn't an option to do such a thing—at least not one you can find in under 30 minutes of poking around. Then there's a climate system on/off icon on the screen that you must click to turn the AC or heater on. You can't just push the fan speed icon and expect it to turn on. No, you must tap the "on" button and then adjust the temperature or fan speed separately. This extra step makes no sense—and to add insult to injury, I couldn't turn the heater on countless times because the climate portion of the OS was unresponsive. Other times, it would simply say that the function couldn't be performed at the time. Why? No idea."

It's interesting to imagine the corporate and engineering environment which resulted in such low-end hardware and software that runs like the menu of a pirated DVD. Some wedding of faddish UI bling and bean-counting. All without apparently caring that what they'd made was seriously unusable.