BMW recently unveiled it’s new BMW Connected app which in turn likely signals where MINI Connected is heading. What’s interesting about the functionality of the app is that it’s now less about connecting your apps and their functionality to your car. Instead it’s more about simplifying navigation and connecting with your daily schedule. In other words its much less ambitious but theoretically much better at doing what it needs to do.
With this update BMW is getting out of the way for a seismic shift in automotive infotainment. They’re making room for CarPlay which will be optional on almost every BMW sold this fall (with Android Auto coming later). This chain of events is also happening at MINI with MINI Connected going from a sprawling patchwork of features to a much more streamlined connection point. We expect MINI to then follow BMW’s lead and offer CarPlay integration sometime in 2017. Whether this is a rolling update for March production or part of the larger model refresh scheduled for September of 2017 we’re not yet sure. But there’s no question that BMW’s corporate strategy is integrate these technologies into all of their brands and models.
As explained by Dieter May, Senior Vice President Digital Services and Business Models at the BMW Group, “Over the coming years, digitalisation is set to have a substantial impact on how we use our cars: digital services will emerge that connect us fully with our personal world, no matter whether we’re out on the road or at home. The car will be transformed into a smart device – intelligently connected, seamlessly integrated and perfectly tuned to the individual needs of each and every user. This is precisely what this new version of BMW Connected aspires to achieve.”
Official Release for BMW Connected
Official Release: BMW has been connecting driver and vehicle for years now with ConnectedDrive. With the launch of BMW Connected in August in selected European markets, BMW is bringing out an all-encompassing digital concept that provides a seamless services experience covering all aspects of personal mobility. Using a flexible platform called the Open Mobility Cloud as a basis, BMW Connected seamlessly integrates the vehicle into the user’s digital life via multiple touchpoints, such as an iPhone or Apple Watch. The new version of BMW Connected focuses first and foremost on journey management for the vehicle, featuring digital products and services designed to simplify the day-to-day planning of driving routes and appointments: BMW Connected gets the user to their destination on time and stress-free.
“Over the coming years, digitalisation is set to have a substantial impact on how we use our cars: digital services will emerge that connect us fully with our personal world, no matter whether we’re out on the road or at home. The car will be transformed into a smart device – intelligently connected, seamlessly integrated and perfectly tuned to the individual needs of each and every user. This is precisely what this new version of BMW Connected aspires to achieve,” explains Dieter May, Senior Vice President Digital Services and Business Models at the BMW Group.
The functions of BMW Connected.
With BMW Connected, mobility extends beyond the vehicle. BMW Connected is a digital companion offered in the form of an app and combines the various functions that assist with everyday mobility requirements. Once the user has set up a ConnectedDrive account and completed a short online registration process, they can create their BMW Connected customer profile quickly and easily. From this moment, BMW Connected – which is initially being made available for Apple iPhone users – scans for any mobility-related information, such as the addresses and arrival times contained in calendar entries, and notifies the driver of the ideal departure time for arriving at their destination punctually on the basis of real-time traffic information. BMW Connected is also handy for transferring places and points of interest from other apps, storing them as a destination together with the desired arrival time, and then effortlessly importing them to BMW in-car navigation systems with just a few clicks. In the case of hybrid and BMW i models, relevant data such as the remaining range or battery charge can be retrieved remotely and factored into journey planning.
Putting an end to arriving late.
To ensure punctual arrival, the BMW Connected functions include “time to leave” notifications, which are sent to the user’s smartphone or Apple Watch to let them know when they have to set off in order to arrive on time. To do this, the expected driving time is regularly compared with the prevailing traffic situation. Any significant changes in the situation are highlighted in colour in the app to make sure the driver still arrives at their destination on schedule.
The “Personal Learned Destinations” function recognises places the user drives to regularly and automatically stores them as favourite destinations, which can be accessed with a single click whenever required. This is supplemented by BMW Connected’s ability to also recognise personal mobility patterns, such as the daily drive home from work. If abnormal traffic conditions would cause the user to arrive home late, for instance, BMW Connected takes action by alerting the user and suggesting the earlier departure time it has calculated for arriving home at the usual time. These functions together provide an easy and convenient way of planning the schedule for the day.
Destination entry in the navigation system with just one click.
The time-consuming manual input of destination addresses in the navigation system is set to become a thing of the past. Assuming that the destination address and desired arrival time have been set outside the vehicle using BMW Connected, the link between iPhone and car means this data is imported when the user climbs aboard. It is then promptly transferred to the BMW navigation system, allowing route guidance to be started directly. Once the journey has begun, a pre-worded SMS message containing the current arrival time can be sent straight from the vehicle to selected contacts, such as the people attending a meeting. A few clicks on the iDrive Controller is all it takes.
However, where users park their car is often not the journey’s end point. Cue “Last Mile Navigation”, which shows them the best way to get to their final destination on their mobile device. Besides all this, the familiar BMW Remote Services have likewise been incorporated into BMW Connected, allowing a variety of functions – such as the interior climate control, vehicle locking and unlocking, and operating the horn and headlight flasher – to be controlled remotely from a smartphone. The vehicle’s current location completes the information available to the user.
The basis for BMW Connected.
At the root of the BMW Connected concept is a flexible service architecture – the Open Mobility Cloud. This platform builds on Microsoft Azure and processes data and information from all sorts of different sources. With machine learning and data analysis capabilities also in its arsenal, it provides the basis for personalisation and context orientation of the BMW Connected services.
What the future holds for BMW Connected.
BMW Connected and the functions it comprises are subject to ongoing development and are constantly being adapted to customer requirements. At the same time, the functions of existing BMW ConnectedDrive apps, such as MyBMW Remote and BMW Connected Classic, are being gradually transitioned to BMW Connected. The customer experience of every aspect of mobility is also being continuously expanded and improved, including smart home monitoring and control and integration into other relevant digital ecosystems. Starting in September, users in the USA will also be able to access BMW Connected via an Alexa skill for Amazon Echo, enabling them to get vehicle status like remaining range and execute remote commands like ‘door lock’, all through voice interaction. The skill integration into Amazon Echo and Alexa-enabled devices demonstrates BMW’s leading role in the area of digitalization. BMW is one of the first automobile companies to release a customer product supporting voice services and access to vehicle information through Alexa.
The flexible architecture of BMW Connected furthermore facilitates the implementation of new functions and services. BMW will present the next update of BMW Connected in the autumn at the world premiere of the next-generation
BMW 5 Series.
Launch in selected European markets.
BMW Connected has already been available on the US market since 31 March 2016. In August it will be extended to Germany, Austria, UK, Italy, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark, Czech Republic, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Republic of Ireland and Luxemburg. Feedback and requests received from American users have already been incorporated into the BMW Connected version for release in Europe. It therefore comes with functions that customers in the USA will also receive as an update. Customers, their experiences and desires are vital elements in adapting BMW Connected to meet people’s needs even more effectively.
Once launched, BMW Connected will be available as a free download from the Apple App Store, and can be used in BMW vehicles with the optional extra “ConnectedDrive Services” activated.