Whenever MINI releases a new app for MINI Connected, even if we never heard of said app, excitement ensues. Early last week, MINI announced the availability of [Life360](https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/life360-family-locator-messaging/id384830320?mt=8) for MINI Connected. From the App Store description, “Life360 is the world’s leading location-sharing app, and is the best way to stay connected to family, friends, and everyone in between.” It joins a group of great applications already on the platform, including: [Glympse](https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/glympse-share-gps-location/id330316698?mt=8) (MF’s favorite), [Spotify](https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/spotify-music/id324684580?mt=8), and [MINI Connected XL Journey Mate](https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/mini-connected-xl-journey/id835049676?mt=8) among others.
**Official Release:** BMW and MINI are integrating Life360 – a family app enjoying considerable global popularity – into their vehicles. 50 million families around the world already use Life360 to stay connected with their friends and relations.
Whether planning dinner together, meeting up with a car pool or wanting to make sure that the kids or grandparents have made it home safely, the Life360 app allows families and friends to communicate easily and bring each other quickly up to speed. After signing up to a new private “circle”, users can share their location and make phone calls or chat online. They can also choose to switch off the location-sharing function. It is also possible to create several groups, although members of different circles, such as close and extended family, can only view one another if they are also members of the same group.
The integration of Life360 into BMW ConnectedDrive and MINI Connected allows the car’s navigation system to guide the driver to a circle member’s current location directly through the app. Telephone conversations with group members can likewise be made directly from the application via the car’s audio system. All that’s required is a live Bluetooth connection between the phone and the car.
The Life360 app is certified for use in BMW and MINI cars with the Apple iPhone and can be downloaded free of charge from the Apple App Store.
**BMW ConnectedDrive and MINI Connected: neatly integrated smartphone apps for a wide range of services and features**
The integration of smartphone apps into BMW and MINI cars enables BMW ConnectedDrive and MINI Connected to offer users a steadily and rapidly expanding range of services and features. The Apps for Automotive (A4A) interface developed by BMW allows BMW and MINI to seamlessly integrate smartphone apps from third-party suppliers into their cars. These applications are not simply shown in the car’s display – their functionality is integrated into the car with maximum usability and the smoothest possible control logic. These BMW-certified apps meet the same requirements in terms of safety and ease of use as every other vehicle function that is operated by the BMW iDrive Controller or MINI Controller and displayed in the BMW Control Display or MINI Centre Instrument.
The innovative A4A interface ensures that current and future models can be equipped with the latest apps at any time via BMW ConnectedDrive and MINI Connected, bringing exceptional flexibility to all BMW and MINI models and ensuring they keep pace with future developments. All that’s required are a connectivity platform – already provided by ConnectedDrive Services (with BMW apps) or MINI Connected – and a smartphone hooked up with the car via a snap-in adapter or USB cable.
Some of the most prominent applications that can be used in BMW and MINI models are summarised below:
**n-tv (Apple iOS) – News channel n-tv is one of the leading information carriers in the German media**
Reports from the worlds of politics, business, sport and technology are complemented by a football ticker, Formula One ticker and weather bulletins. The latest financial news is a recognised focal point of n-tv’s reporting. The n-tv editors offer a special compact news service via the smartphone app (available free of charge from the Apple App Store) in the form of audio files. The news items are read by a professional newsreader and provide a summary of the most important developments at any given time.
**Spotify (Apple iOS) – Music service**
One of the world’s most popular music streaming services for smartphones, tablets, computers and home entertainment systems, Spotify has more than 50 million users and over 12.5 million paying subscribers across 58 countries.
**Deezer (Apple iOS) – Music service**
This comprehensive music experience is available in 182 countries and offers a back catalogue of more than 30 million music tracks which can be played on mobile devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets as well as on home audio systems, integrated in-car devices and computers.
**Napster/Rhapsody (Apple iOS) – Music service**
Napster offers access to 25 million songs of every genre – including rock, pop and soul – as well as classical music, jazz and thousands of audio books. Napster’s music experts compile playlists and tracks from specific artists and help users to discover new work. Live sessions, exclusive interviews and spoken content are also part of Napster’s portfolio. Access (via BMW ConnectedDrive and MINI Connected) is through Napster in Europe and Napster’s parent company Rhapsody in the USA.
**Amazon Music (previously Amazon Cloud Player, Apple iOS) – Music service**
Amazon Music allows access to 27 million music tracks, which can be downloaded onto a smartphone or streamed. Many tracks have an AutoRip function, through which the track is available for mobile devices in MP3 form even if it has been purchased in a different format.
**TuneIn Radio Free/TuneIn Radio Pro (Apple iOS) – Internet radio**
Over 50 million listeners tune in to TuneIn every month. This gives them access to 100,000 FM, AM, HD and internet radio stations and two million on-demand programmes from every continent. BMW ConnectedDrive and MINI Connected support both the charge-free version and the ad-free Pro option.
**Audible (Apple iOS) – Audio books and other audio content**
The world’s largest provider and producer of digital spoken content offers more than 130,000 audio programmes. BMW ConnectedDrive and MINI Connected allow Audible customers to access their libraries via the iDrive operating system and MINI Controller.
**myKIDIO (Apple iOS; only BMW) – In-car entertainment for children**
This app lays on age-appropriate and organised content, such as TV series, films, audio books and audio plays, to make long journeys that much more entertaining for children travelling in the car. This app requires both an iPhone and an iPad, which displays the content in the rear of the car. Then there is the BMW Kids Cockpit journey monitor, which shows the latest information on the journey, including the car’s speed and the remaining duration of the travel. The content shown on the iPad can be easily and safely controlled by parents using the BMW iDrive operating system.
**Glympse (Apple iOS) – GPS-based location information**
This app allows you to inform other users of your location for a set period of time. The timespan involved ranges from a few minutes to several hours. It’s a handy way, for example, of letting people know your expected arrival time without having to call ahead.
**GoPro app (Apple iOS) – Camera remote control**
GoPro cameras are compact, robust, easy to operate, very small and handy to use. All of which makes them ideally suited to recording spectacular sport and leisure activities in photo or video form. On a race track, for example, the cameras can be attached to either the inside or the outside of the car to provide the perfect record of hot laps. The GoPro app for the iPhone, available free of charge from the Apple App Store, enables intuitive remote control of the GoPro camera via smartphone. For example, options such as video, recording mode or photo burst can be selected.
**MINI Connected app (Apple iOS/Google Android)**
This free app demonstrates the MINI infotainment system’s infinite ability to update itself to whatever the future might bring. Third-party apps developed specifically for use in a MINI allow the continuous expansion of the range of functions designed to make driving safer, more comfortable and more exciting. The services embraced by the MINI Connected app can also be added, including web radio and RSS newsfeed services, use of Twitter and foursquare as well as an online search facility and functions exclusive to MINI, such as Driving Excitement, Mission Control, Dynamic Music and MINIMALISM.
**MINI Connected XL Journey Mate (Apple iOS/Google Android)**
MINI is offering a new level of in-car connectivity with the MINI Connected XL Journey Mate personal mobility assistant. This application makes the valuable services of a travel guide available to drivers before they even set off. When the driver selects a destination on their smartphone, the Journey Mate summons information on the current traffic situation. Tasks such as telephone calls and other information for the journey can also be factored in. A smartphone connection allows the data to be transferred to the car. The MINI Connected XL Journey Mate provides parking recommendations and advance notice of filling stations, keeps an eye on the journey time and sources the weather forecast for the destination. Meanwhile, its Traffic Radar gives you an up-to-the-minute overview of the situation on the road. All the information and recommendations – updated, adapted to the context and intelligently filtered – appear alongside the normal navigation instructions when the 8.8-inch integrated screen is in split-screen mode. At the end of the trip, the Journey Mate guides you to your destination with its Last Mile Navigation function, whether the user is still driving or now on foot. And the Car Finder function means you’ll always be able to locate your car again.
Some apps are only available for specific markets. The QQ Music application (music service) for the Apple iPhone, for example, is only available in China, and the Pandora app (music service) is only offered in the USA.