At the 2011 New York International Auto Show, BMW recently showed off their latest iPhone integration technology. BMW’s iDrive system was first introduce with the 7-series back in 2001, but is now available across the entire range of BMW models. This latest update brings with it more smartphone-like features and what is being called BMW Apps.
Rob Passaro, Senior Engineer of the BMW Technology Group for North America says, “The big idea behind BMW Apps is how do you get great new smartphone features into your BMW as soon as they’re available?”
Most cars manufactured today include some form of iPod integration, but BMW has taken things to a whole new level. Where BMW differs from other carmakers is the level of features that are available with this new system. You start by launching the free BMW Connected App and plugging your iPhone into the car’s armrest dock. After that the car has access to the iPhone’s 3G signal and can access internet radio stations from around the world. One nice feature is the ability to change the audio quality if bandwidth is an issue.
BMW Apps also lets you access all of your music on the iPhone using the familiar iPod interface that everyone knows and loves. Having used an Alpine car stereo with an iPod interface for years now, the ability to search for music using a normal iPod interface would be a godsend.
Pandora is also coming soon to BMW Apps as well. Another welcomed feature is the ability for the onboard software to update itself whenever updates become available, without the need to bring your car in to the service department. It simply downloads the update wirelessly.
BMW Apps also includes what’s being called “automotive grade” Facebook and Twitter integration. As you drive, the vehicle collects an array of driving data that can then be posted to Facebook and Twitter. To avoid scrolling to find letters to type messages, you can also send preprogramed messages that include real time data as well, such as location and weather conditions wherever you happen to be at the moment.
BMW is also working with host of app developers to bring even more features to the iDrive system. With so much information available on the dashboard nowadays, people may find themselves sitting in parked cars more than driving them. Hopefully, people will also remember to look up once in a while when they’re driving around though.