World Debut: MINI Connected

Today MINI takes the wraps off technology that debuted as a concept this past fall in Frankfurt. However here we see the final version which will make its debut in the Countryman later this year. We expect the R56 to get this upgrade in time for its 2011 refresh.

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • World-first in-car entertainment solution with unique-to-MINI technology integrating into the Apple iPhone.
  • World debut of in-car web radio; unique possibilities for customisation and integration of additional functions.
  • Data exchange capabilities, allowing a huge range of infotainment, navigation and communication functions to be used on board the vehicle.
  • MINI Connected brings enhanced user functionality and customisation to the MINI-exclusive Mission Control function.
  • Safe, convenient, intuitive control of all functions via the MINI operating system.

Updated: Well have much more on MINI Connected tomorrow.

Official Release: MINI has chosen the 2010 Geneva International Motor Show to launch an all-new, world-first in-car entertainment solution: MINI Connected. Through intelligent connectivity between the driver, his MINI and the outside world, MINI Connected offers new options for further enhancing the hallmark driving fun associated with the brand. Some of these new possibilities will be presented in Geneva. MINI Connected will be launched simultaneously with the MINI Countryman, as an optional specification.

2011 MINI Connected

With MINI Connected, MINI is the world’s first carmaker to offer a newly developed USB interface whose unique functionality allows maximum integration of the iPhone into the in-car audio and infotainment system. This MINI-exclusive technology provides the basis for new and unprecedented integration of smartphone functions, taking the in-car integration of modern smartphone telecommunications, entertainment and online functions to a whole new level.

The innovative iPhone interface provides robust data exchange capabilities, allowing a range of infotainment, navigation and communication functions to be used on board the vehicle. MINI Connected also allows functions to be enhanced or personalized to the driver’s individual preferences.

MINI Connected offers diversity and flexibility across a host of different functions, something new to the auto industry. The technology is future-adaptable, and will guarantee customers instant access to future innovations in the fields of entertainment, communication, navigation and information.

All of the functions integrated through MINI Connected, courtesy of the Apple iPhone, are activated and controlled using the vehicle’s existing operating system. When the system is fitted with the optional MINI Visual Boost radio, the full range of MINI Connected functions can be used. The radio’s high-resolution color display is integrated in the Center Speedo, and the center console-mounted MINI joystick provides convenient, simple and intuitive operation.

The existing MINI operating structure allows drivers to select and activate any function with minimal distraction from the road, so the MINI Connected information and instructions follow the MINI’s familiar display logic. The system can easily be customized; applications can be selected or deselected quickly and conveniently using the vehicle controls.

World-first: the MINI Connected web radio function.

As an example of the new possibilities opened up by MINI Connected, the new web radio function will be demonstrated during the Geneva Auto Show. Once a MINI is linked to the outside world via MINI Connected, the driver has a choice of radio stations streamed to the vehicle from anywhere in the world, provided the station is available in the extensive station database. MINI is the world’s first carmaker to offer this type of function as a manufacturer-installed option on a production vehicle.

Exclusive to MINI: Mission Control.

MINI Connected also incorporates the Mission Control module, which made its debut in the MINI 50 Camden anniversary model. Mission Control evaluates a vast range of vehicle information, driving situations and vehicle environment-related signals to supply the driver with relevant commentary and instructions in customary MINI style. Mission Control gives the driver an even stronger sense of interacting directly with the vehicle, reinforcing the whole concept of the MINI as a car with character and personality.

The vehicle-related signals are used to generate constantly changing, situation-dependent messages. The dialogue may take the form of safety and comfort-related advice, such as prompts to fasten a seatbelt or guidance on the air conditioning system; or it may provide information relating to the current driving situation and operating status (for example, outside temperatures or fuel tank level). The wide repertoire of messages, which marks a significant advance over previous systems, makes for a continually varied dialogue between the MINI and its driver, even in familiar and frequently recurring everyday driving situations. And thanks to MINI Connected, Mission Control now offers extensive functional enhancement and personalization options, such as a choice of language versions and driving modes.

  • Stephen

    Is there any information about how they expect to get data into the car? Is it a cellular data plan? Is it hooked to a specific carrier?

    It would be really cool if they created a Mini Connected iPhone app that would allow me to use my iPhone data plan to get data, rather than requiring me to purchase a second data plan.

  • danny

    As long as I can stop that damn ipod playing from auto playing each time so I can stream pandora (something I would love to do and if anyone knows how please post) I will be happy.

    I have a 2009 base mini with the ipod integration kit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1003965445 Harry Dill

    How deep is all of this vanguard technology going reach into consumer pockets? Seemingly the incorporation of an Apple-specific IT interface could generate cross marketing revenue for BMW/MINI that could be used to essentially subsidize the cost of the option to MINI consumers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1468568369 Alan Tate

    I hope they open it up to Droid customers too. Being limited to AT&T is a bad option.

    Also, is this the first +$2000 iPod?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000710531652 Matt Richter

    I don’t think that they’re looking to subsidize the end user. I think they’re looking to charge the end user! I would be an interesting paradigm to use the smart-phone as the radio platform, so as to reduce hardware and data plan costs, but that would leave money on the table, so to speak.

    I also hope that they roll out other mobil OS support, like Android and the rest of the pack.

    What’s next, the MINI App Store to pay for and download applications to the infotainment system?

  • http://www.facebook.com/garbageburrito Ben Kittrell

    You’ve got to be kidding, the year after I order a MINI they put the coolest thing ever in it. Jeez

  • annie

    Will there be a MINI Connected upgrade option for 08-09 owners with factory nav ?

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    I hope they open it up to Droid customers too. Being limited to AT&T is a bad option.

    I think you’re mixing two issues here. First off they need Android support at some point. As much as the iPhone is the market leader, it’s just smart to make sure people who can’t/won’t use the iPhone can experience this tech.

    Secondly AT&T as a data partner should be totally transparent to the end user (as it is in BMWs).

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    What’s next, the MINI App Store to pay for and download applications to the infotainment system?

    Yup. Look for it on the next generation MINI in two-three years.

  • Jack Grouell

    My MINI entertainment comes from driving it…

  • Huckleberry

    Love it!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000719142059 Kevin Collins

    This had better come in at $2k or less – same or less than the current grossly overpriced nav option. Anything more is highway robbery.

    I’m curious if this system is hard drive-based. Based on all the functionality, I assume it must be. That in itself will be a nice upgrade.

  • Michael Wuchitech

    Any rumors about something like BMW Assist with this connectivity?

  • b-

    “Also, is this the first +$2000 iPod?”

    My 2005 R52 is a $16000.00 iPod accessory!

  • Bilbo Baggins

    Great write up, Gabe

    Can’t say as I want my car doing any communicating for me. I certainly do not need any more in-car entertainment options. If you do not mind, I’ll have my MINI plain, straight-up, neat.

  • Melis

    Gabe,

    Will the new system use A2DP Bluetooth to allow streaming from iPhones and iPod touches to the MINI audio system?

    @danny The way I do it is using an AUX cable from my iPhone to the AUX-IN and then charge my phone over a Belkin Dual Auto Charger. At least that way you can use an iPhone, BB, Android…anything.

    I’ve tried it over the iPod cable in my 08 MCS with iPod integration but I find it doesn’t charge the iPhone, and eats a ton of battery for some reason.

  • that.guy

    I can’t believe it has taken this long to get streaming audio into cars. Seriously, this is old technology at this point. It will be good to finally kill of the whole satellite radio thing. What a joke that is.

    I really hope the “extensive station database” is just that, and includes archived audio (podcasts) as well as live streams. No “walled gardens”, please. And, BMW, take a look at what Sonos has done with a very simple interface.

  • CraigE

    @danny

    Just use the AUX in rather than the iPod cable. You lose the charging function, but the USB port doesn’t charge the iPhone 3G/3GS very well anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000719142059 Kevin Collins

    @that.guy said: I can’t believe it has taken this long to get streaming audio into cars. Seriously, this is old technology at this point. It will be good to finally kill of the whole satellite radio thing. What a joke that is.

    The main problem with satellite radio (other than cost) is that horrendously low bitrates they broadcast at. For voice, it’s ok (though tinny). For music reproduction, it’s horrible. Typical internet radio stations transmit at 32, 64 or 128kbits, the latter being not bad at all and significantly better than Sirius. But will that kind of bitrate be available over at 3G mobile connection? If it’s something less, than this new technology won’t be any more useful than Sirius for music, and it won’t be free either.

    I’d be happy with my current nav system & h/k sound if it just had HD storage instead of the nav DVD and iPod/iPhone integration. I’d just rip my music to the HD and not screw around with the iPod, and use my phone via Bluetooth and be a happy camper.

  • Capt

    I was hoping every MINI Connected vehicle would be a rolling hotspot for WIFI using 3G/4G coverage – providing passengers with their own devices the ability to connect as needed.

  • Torobud

    That has got to be the biggest hidden Mickey ever…

  • C4

    Looks like they used Mickey Mouse as the design inspiration for the new center console?

  • Melis

    @C4 Ya, I noticed that too. At least the dark silver looks much bitter than the bright silver they’ve been showing up until now.

  • Hoover

    I’m hoping this doesn’t involve tethering, which AT&T does not support in the US. My guess it that it doesn’t, but can you confirm this, Gabe?

    @C4: I had the same observation a while back. On the plus side, my daughter will really like that part of the car.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=814825706 Sideways Eh!

    This is really sweet! Hopefully this option is not going to be more than the current nav option. Would be interesting to see how it is going to connect with the Rail system in the R60. It would be awesome if it created a rolling hot spot for WIFI, I also really dig the new design of the interior pictured here… Keep up the good work MINI!

  • GaryD

    Disappointed. The focus should be on driving, not on playing with an entertainment system. There are already enough distractions out there (cell phones, texting, etc.) that the last thing we need is another way to keep drivers focus away from the road.

  • SFRedMCc

    They should call it the MINI-Mouse entertainment system. 😉

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1536858748 Rob Rudorf

    Let me guess, $4500 for this great MINI experience.

  • dr

    This is a fail if it is anything less than a rolling wifi hotspot. the next gen ford sync will be just that and anything less is going to be a disappointment….Oh, and since the sync is only a $400 option…any price point beyond that will be a miss as well.

  • that.guy

    Even if it is a rolling hotspot, it only works if can piggy back on your existing unlimited data plan. Is that how the Ford system works, or would it require you to pay a separate monthly fee? I was (naively) assuming streaming audio would not cost anything on an ongoing basis.You’d maybe just hear an ad when you start or change streams.

  • dr
  • rhawth99

    Just brilliant – this from a company that refuses to put decent cup holders in their vehicles as the driver will be too distracted reaching for their coffee.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1465883354 Cameron Love

    @Kevin Collins.. i believe this is a hard drive based system becauseif you look closely at the picture, there is only on CD Slot on this car, not two, like the 07-09 Nav sets have.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1232156929 Mike Roberts

    Wish this could be an update for early R56s. The interface now is an embarrassment to MINI/BMW.

  • that.guy

    @dr Yep, Ford Sync sounds pretty sweet: “And you’re not paying for yet another mobile subscription or piece of hardware because Ford will let you use technology you already have.” Check it out BMW…

    @rhawth99 MINIs came equipped with perfectly good cupholders from day one. The problem is that they were not large enough to accomodate the “supersize” beverage containers favored by an increasingly obese American population. 12oz cups fit perfectly.

  • rosvick

    I’ll pass on all this. Satnav and touch screens are already big enough distractions, I don’t need yet another piece of technology vying for my attention while driving! I’ll stick with the ridiculously oversized speedometer, thanks.

    Oh, and perhaps add a coolant gauge, BMW? That would be great.

    As an aside, though, I know this is an image of the R60, but I’m really digging the fancy looking materials on the dash. I hope something like this will be brought into the R56 refresh!

  • glangford

    I agree, too much distraction, too much cost if its around the 2000 NAV option. I don’t have nav in my r56 for that reason, I’ll keep my iphone and aux port.

  • glangford

    I do like the center console look though. A little cleaner than the r56. I wonder what it would look like w/o this option.

  • Capt

    To the right of the time there are the classic signal bars used for cell phones… so you are connected to what we assume would be 3G/4G speed, you have a HD and we all pray that they had the foresight to include a hotspot (oh yeah, all for under $400)…

    We need some specs!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=902505721 Josh Hway

    Why the hell did Mini design that center console to look like Mickey Mouse!!!! Stupid stupid stupid. Mini Connected looks sweet though!

  • Melis

    Can we please get an oil temp or coolant temp guage, maybe trans temp of differential temp too? The nav screen is super smart in knowing what services are upcoming or if anything is wrong. But not having any temp guages on something big and heavy with awd that might be lumbering in the heat, at altitude, uphill, towing something sounds like a problem waiting to happen. I’m not talking Nissan GT-R style but something!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=29104291 Daniel Mittelman

    So that’s what the refreshed interior looks like?

    More pics of the refresh please

  • CarCrazedinCali

    I VOTE AGAINST MISSION CONTROL- NOT A FAN! It doesn’t even say LET’S MOTOR, LET’S MINI is what it says among way too much else and it sounds kinda dumb

  • Brian

    @that guy “MINIs came equipped with perfectly good cupholders from day one. The problem is that they were not large enough to accomodate the “supersize” beverage containers favored by an increasingly obese American population. 12oz cups fit perfectly.”

    Right on.

  • danny

    thanks all! I do and have tried the aux. just one more wire though and I was hoping to do it with the default ipod cable.

    :(

  • Jim W.

    And I can remember when you got in a car to drive it somewhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000719142059 Kevin Collins

    The late great George Carlin had a great solution for cupholder envy: “Get a f’n drink before you leave the house!!” Ah, I miss you, George.

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  • BilboBaggins

    I’d trade all the fancy electronic trickery for a full set of gauges; water temp, oil temp, oil pressure, boost, intake air temp …

    There is plenty of room in the center of that pie plate size, clown-like, speedometer. Do you think that they have to pay Disney a royalty for that design?

  • alpinamike

    BTW the Older MINI has the Hidden Mickey Mouse, and Disney has Made a Pin for that, heck they even did the GP in purple.

    I think disney likes the MINI.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/83767992@N00/3210693661/ Pin

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/83767992@N00/4288393430/ Hidden Mickey Beachcomber

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