Let's talk software look/feel

Let's talk software look/feel

I am a graphic designer, so software design is important to me. Does anyone feel like the current software in the Model S looks a little dated? I would love to see a more "flat" software design in the Model 3 (less drop shadows, textures, gradients). Google "iOS 6 vs iOS 7" to see the difference. Current software looks a little "iOS 6"ish while I am hoping for something closer to iOS 7 and above. Thoughts?

dsvick | April 5, 2017

You may get a better response in the model S forum ...

DTsea | April 5, 2017

I hate the flat look myself. Visually dull.

Red Sage ca us | April 5, 2017

OP: Wait... Didn't Tesla just update the look/feel of the Model S interface to be more 'flat' like last year, or in 2015? It sounds like you want something that is practically below 'FACEBALL 2000' or 'Out of This World' on Super Nintendo in terms of 'flatness'. Personally, I rather despise i$#!+ devices and their push-me-pull-me graphical user interface. Perhaps you should do some Googling of your own, to see what the Tesla GUI looked like in 2014 and earlier, so that you can see the 'improvements' you suggest have already been implemented to a large degree. Generally speaking, I don't like the push to 'simpler' interfaces using even more powerful graphical hardware. It's just as bad as using a 128 track digital audio studio to 'produce' so-called 'music' with only four channels of polyphony. A complete waste.

dimitri.anast | April 5, 2017

@Red Sage ca us

Yes they have made some considerable improvements from 2014. Looking at 2014 doesn't look elegant or classy at all to me, I'm surprised it was found in a luxury car. I don't have to Google, I have seen the evidence straight from Looking at these icons that are shown in their current software, they all have unneeded gradients, textures, and shadows that take away from the cleanliness of the rest of the design. Thoughts?

dimitri.anast | April 5, 2017

Look at the map icons next to "intuitive media player" on this page

Frank99 | April 5, 2017


Well, I lived through the "flat design is cool" stage back in the 90's (when that's all the hardware could do), the "drop shadows are cool" stage in the late 90's as hardware got better, the rise of skeumorphism spearheaded by the iPhone and later OS X releases as hardware got powerful enough to support baroque iconography, and the current infatuation with Flat design spearheaded by Microsoft's design-language-that-used-to-be-called-Metro.

My thoughts? Calling the current fad of UIs covered with large blocky shapes "elegant" or "classy" or "clean" is a judgement made in the eye of the beholder. Personally, especially with the high-DPI displays we have today, I love the artistry of a well-designed complex UI, with detail, shadows, and detail. The current "flat" fad looks cartoonish to me. But that's just my personal opinion. Keeping it with artificial changes in "style" dictated by companies trying to make my current (clothes, accessories, computers, cars, etc) look dated so I'll have to buy new ones is not a form of pressure I have historically responded well to.

This is one of the reasons that I'd love tor Tesla to change their approach to the central screen. Rather than being a part of the car, I'd love for them to provide me a clamp for a 10" sized tablet of my choice, and implement their UI as an app on IOS and Android that communicates via Bluetooth and a defined API with the car. (and before you bring it up, there's absolutely no security risk with doing so). The Tesla-provided UI can be as rich as it is today, and as responsive as it is today, but it allows me to use a different community-supported UI. If the "elegant" UI design language changes next year, I can buy a new iPad or Samsung tablet, plop the Tesla app on it, and remain stylish. I can use the Music app of my choice, or the Nav app of my choice, or the communications app of my choice (Skype, anyone?).

Haggy | April 5, 2017

The Model S does have a "flat" design and moved away from the skeuomorphic design in several iterations, the most recent of which didn't leave any aspects of it that I can think of.

Red Sage ca us | April 5, 2017

OP: As noted previously, I like textures and gradients. I also like drop shadows. I truly enjoy perspective and 3D elements. I suspect that people who prefer a more 'flat' experience over any other in a GUI either suffer from depth perception issues, or are color blind. Sometimes, rather rarely, the 'flat' user interface can be well done. But it tends to also use pastel colors chosen to be specifically non-primary, or multiple shades of gray/grey for an either flowery or monochrome look and feel that gets on my nerves. What's the point of putting modern processing power behind extremely sharp anti-aliased vector imagery that could just as easily be handled with a PNG or GIF?

topher | April 5, 2017

'Flat' is just a fashion to keep graphics designers in business.

What I want is a user interface designed by a human interaction expert. I want it to work well, not meet someone's idea of fashionable.

Oh, and font sizes fit for people older than 30.

Thank you kindly.

Frank99 | April 5, 2017

>>> Oh, and font sizes fit for people older than 30.
Oh, yeah. I hate pulling out my magnifying glass to read the text on some of the apps on my phone. Just because you used a 7x9 console font when you wrote the software on a PC, doesn't mean it's a good idea to use that on a 300+ DPI screen...

dimitri.anast | April 5, 2017

@Red Sage ca us based on your theory then, 99% of every major brand today suffers from depth perception issues or are color blind. I might have mistaken the average Tesla user as someone forward thinking in terms of design, unfortunately this thread has proven otherwise.

dimitri.anast | April 5, 2017

@topher are you insinuating that if designs weren't flat today, graphic designers wouldn't be in business? Someone needs to be the one designing, whether that be flat or not. That comment was alarming.

hsuru4u | April 5, 2017

what is flat? have you test drove a leaf or bolt or volt or i3? their screens are just plain boring and immature.

topher | April 5, 2017


Yes, a human/computer interface expert should be designing. If that leaves you out of a job, I'm sorry. Graphics designers have made far too many, pretty, but unusable interfaces. Once the interface is completely functional, perhaps there is a role for a graphics designer. But if you are talking about fashion, you are part of the problem.

Carl Thompson | April 5, 2017

Perhaps at some point Tesla will offer "themes" to change the look and feel to suit the owner's preference. I personally like the flat style myself as it tends to have less wasted space but it's a matter of taste.


Frank99 | April 5, 2017

>>> I might have mistaken the average Tesla user as someone forward thinking in terms of design, unfortunately this thread has proven otherwise.

Wow. He asks for opinions, then returns what he considers insults when those opinions don't match his.

On second thought, he'll fit right in here.

KP in NPT | April 5, 2017

Is Dmitri an owner? I've never seen him here. Sorry Eagles, not part of the "Teslarati."

KP in NPT | April 5, 2017

And yes, lets come here and insult right out the gate. That's a good way to introduce yourself to the community.

EaglesPDX | April 5, 2017

When Tesla upgrades the UI, the same Teslerati who are claiming the dated design is "greatest ever" will switch direction instantly.

Civicrick | April 5, 2017

What about speech input? Are Tesla cars good with that?

Red Sage ca us | April 5, 2017

I have worked with computer graphics in various capacities for something like... Uhmmm... Carry the two... Yeah, 35 years or something. I have been an artist practically since birth, from the first time I drew a happy face in the mud, drew a picture in the sand with a stick, or used finger paints or crayons to do a landscape featuring a house, trees, and flowers. I have worked both professionally and as a volunteer, while also drawing just for fun. I like making pretty pictures.

There is more than one way to design things. I like some better than others. Some 'new' styles simply aren't. They are recycled and adapted from design themes that originated decades earlier, given a new name, and 'rediscovered'. So, I am undoubtedly 'forward thinking' as many here can attest... But I know when I have seen something before as well. And I know when a graphical concept is not well executed. Especially when it comes to a Graphical User Interface. Just because something is 'trending' doesn't mean it is good.

Jerrylooney | April 6, 2017

It looks like opacity will change on the 3 based on situation according to Elons tweets

A different implementation of the UI is on the cards, we'll see the outcome in a few short months.....

COrich | April 6, 2017

No matter what the GUI looks like, the only thing I hope for is consistency between all the models. I can learn just about any GUI in a reasonable time. What I hate is when auto manufacturers make changes between models simply to have them be different. Not all of us will have only one Tesla in the garage.

I expect differences between a Bolt and a Model 3. I don't expect differences between a Model 3 and a Model S just for the sake of having it be different.

EaglesPDX | April 6, 2017

" I don't expect differences between a Model 3 and a Model S just for the sake of having it be different."

What @dimitri.anast was talking about are both form and function issues. The items he mentions actually have a big effect on usability. Especially true on a car screen where safety is involved and it has to give you information without distracting you. Super especially true on T3 if that screen is the ONLY means of instrumentation.

Haggy | April 6, 2017

The current view is that earlier GUI designs replaced physical components, and emulating the look and feel of physical buttons would make the user the most comfortable. These days, nobody gets confused by a red rectangle in this forum with the word SAVE on it. It may not look like a physical button, but its purpose is clear to anybody who is computer literate.

Styles will come and go, but it's likely that skeuomorphic designs will seem quaint. They were predated by flat designs simply because things started out as simple as possible and were improved upon to satisfy users. So in essence we are closer in some respects to Windows 1 buttons than to Windows 3 buttons. But when Windows 1 came out, an untrained user wouldn't have known what a button was or how to click on it with a mouse.

These days, function is more important. With physical buttons and knobs, form followed function. Then computers emulated the form that followed the function. Now we are moving to a form that follows the current function. Touch screens don't rely on physical pressure to move buttons in or out.

Red Sage ca us | April 6, 2017

Haggy is correct.

Frank99 | April 6, 2017

damn kids and their newfangled ideas, changing everything around just because they can. why can't they just leave things alone, like they were back when i was a kid, when a picture of a floppy meant save, and a major release of an OS meant that the floppy icon got more detailed and photorealistic. I'll never figure out all these arbitrary shapes and colors - its as bad as getting on a plane and trying to read the emergency information card written in international - mysterious symbols and bright colors that absolutely nobody can interpret so nobodies at a disadvantage when the plane catches on fire. Hey, You! Get Offa My Lawn!

EaglesPDX | April 6, 2017

"Get off my UI you damn kids"

EaglesPDX | April 6, 2017

"Touch screens don't rely on physical pressure to move buttons in or out."

Not exactly.

Light touch, touch screen button does one thing.
Heavy touch, touch screen button does something else.

Red Sage ca us | April 6, 2017

Frank99: Hey! I resemble that remark! ;-)

-|- A Google search for 'vector icons' brings up 48,500,000 results.

-|- A Google search for 'flat line icons' has 5,070,000 results.

-|- A Google search for 'rendered icons' gives 748,000 results.

Garyeop | April 6, 2017

We are talking human/machine interface. Don't be limited to a screen or peddle or wheel.

Why not display your surroundings as a 3d rendering where you can see and drive your car in God mode. Think rolling a hotwheel on a map. Seeing all cars around you on that map.

Without wearing a glove, 3d tracking allows you to move your hand to turn on music, set speed, or roll down the window. You may use default movements or train the system your moves.

Allow multiple input modes. Talk to the car, use hand movements, or use old fashioned controls.

The hard part is changing our learned reactions. Like pushing an imaginary break peddle as you sit in the passenger seat teaching your 15 year old to drive. We may never change. Our kids probably will.

EaglesPDX | April 6, 2017

Sheesh...god is just 3D....that's disappointing...I was at least hoping for an 8th Dimension.

Red Sage ca us | April 6, 2017

Garyeop: As wickedly cool, futuristic, and awesome as that sounds...? The saying goes, "A man's got to know his limitations." I am far too fidgety a person to rely upon gesture controls. I'm a disciplined person, but far from regimented in my behavior. I would be setting off unintended automatic responses all the time. The computer would spend far too many cycles figuring out when I didn't want it to do things. So it would end up ignoring me when I actually did want it to operate a hand gesture function.

As it is, I can't properly operate a Windows 8 or Windows 10 computer because all the mouse actions have changed, and it gets worse when I try to use a touchpad instead. I can just barely get by if there is a touchscreen, and even that is a pain. I've used the XBOX Kinect enough to know I'm practically invisible to its cameras too.

I'm sure the various swipe, grab, pinch, stretch, and wiggle/waggle gestures make sense to someone. I'm just not one of them. Maybe I got old while I wasn't looking?

Garyeop | April 7, 2017

Note to self. Make video of Red Sage in human interfaced Model 3 with 10 mosquitoes added.

Red Sage ca us | April 7, 2017

Garyeop: Amazingly, I've noticed that when I visit Mississippi during Spring or Summer, the mosquitoes no longer find me particularly appetizing. They leave me alone entirely. :D

janendan | April 8, 2017

Has anyone ever considered an oval display panel? Maybe a a little extra $ for a display that clearly looks awkward at best. It is the centerpiece of the interior.

Red Sage ca us | April 8, 2017

janedan: That sounds as if it would be more appropriate for the Nissan PIVO...