FFCtrl

EV companion mobile application
Faraday Future 2019

ffctrl hero image

Design brief

I’ve always been interested in cars so I jumped at the opportunity to work on Faraday Future’s electric vehicle the FF91. I was lucky enough to work on a few different parts of the digital experiences both within their flagship vehicle’s cabin - the audio app framework, and vehicle navigation - as well as the vehicle companion mobile app. I worked closely with the product owner to reorganize and redesign the application from a set of features into a useful and hopefully delightful experience.

ff91 vehicle in venice

Faraday Future's FF91

Functionality

As vehicles have become more aerodynamic and energy efficient, elements that create drag like door handles and even keyholes have been redesigned or eliminated to reduce drag. The FF91 doesn't have traditional door handles and uses bluetooth and cellular connectivity to send status and receive commands. Similar to other electric vehicles the FF91’s key fob equivalent is a mobile app - FFCtrl. The FFCtrl app has 3 main functions:

  1. Provide status and controls for the vehicle

  2. Vehicle location and nearby charging stations

  3. Controls for in car entertainment

ffctrl interface screens

The problem with buttons

As part of my discovery process I did a competitive analysis of other vehicles mobile companion apps. I also was able to borrow the company’s Tesla Model X to get some hands on experience with relying on a mobile app for vehicle access. One of the typical issues that I noticed from competitors is that the current status and actions weren’t always disambiguated due to use of toggle buttons or that simple actions required menu diving. Given the space constraints of the mobile app it made sense that some companies decided to go with toggle buttons that combined actions and status. However it isn’t all that clear if the label is indicating current status or action status - to avoid this situation I created separation of status and actions within the interface. The particular design that we landed on ended up being submitted for a design patent by our legal team, also my first design patent.

patent document

My first design patent!

Status combinations

One of the key benefits of the app is to update the driver of battery and charging statuses. There are quite a few different statuses that needed to be prioritized to the operator so that they can be aware of the progress and any issues that need intervention to proceed. Although the cars dashboard had been designed to accommodate the statuses we hadn’t taken a deeper look to make sure that the layouts on both mobile and within the car actually made sense. Sometimes the best tools for design aren’t design tools. I created an excel spreadsheet to list out all the combinations of status that could occur and was able to make sure that we were not only accounting for them but also being consistent in our language and smart about which statuses we prioritize. This work informed how the vehicle console behaves as well and was adopted by other designers on our team.

charging states spreadsheet

Accounting for the various vehicle states while charging

charging states spreadsheet

A sample of charging states translated into UI

Outcome

Many of the user experience wins were results of close collaboration with my product owner and other designers where we re-evaluated our requirements and framing and ended up with a far simpler solutions that accomplished the user goals without overcomplicating features.

Hyun Kim