Among the connectivity features of BMW's ConnectedDrive infotainment system are the ability for drivers to make calls, listen to music and get live traffic information. A new update now brings more music options, along with other features including smart home integration.
When we covered the ConnectedDrive update in 2013, much of it focused on the somewhat nuts-and-bolts aspects of interface updates, rolling out more apps and extending the availability of existing features. The new update revolves far more around new functionality.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,500 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
To begin, Deezer joins the existing Napster as a means by which to stream music. Accessed via BMW Online Entertainment, it allows drivers to listen to music and spoken content, using their vehicle's on-board SIM so as not to require an accompanying smartphone or to eat into a phone's data allowance.
To avoid playback dropping out when the car passes through areas with no mobile reception, tracks are buffered. All previously streamed music, meanwhile, is stored on a hard drive and can be listened to even in areas without mobile reception.
Users can access the service on up to three other mobile devices, allowing them to create playlists at home, ready for listening to the next time they are in the car. They can sign up to Online Entertainment via BMW ConnectedDrive or log on with an existing Deezer account.
Another major part of the update is the addition of BMW Labs, a service that allows users "to test developing and near-final products prior to full release." BMW explains that Labs was conceived due to the speed with which new services were being developed.
The Labs portal was opened in January to allow ConnectedDrive services to connect the automation service IFTTT (IF This Then That). In addition to being able to control online services, it allows users to do things like open the garage door, turn on lights and control the central heating from their car, assuming they have the appropriate smart home hardware.
Elsewhere, BMW Apps Interface, which allows users to use supported BMW and third-party apps from compatible iOS and Android devices, has been made standard across the BMW range, as has the BMW Online service. The latter provides an internet connection via which users can keep up-to-date with news and weather, conduct online searches and download apps to the car. It also now has a text-to-speech function that can read news stories aloud and detail points of interest found via online search. Emails can be also read, dictated and sent using the BMW Online Office service.
Last but not least, the functionality of the free BMW Remote App for Android and iOS has been improved. The app allows users to operate features of their vehicle remotely. There's a vehicle finder function that tracks the user's vehicle using GPS, the interior temperature can be preset for when the driver gets into their vehicle, and the vehicle's lights can be flashed to help locate it in a car-park. The app also allows users to send a location to the vehicle for in-car navigation later.
The new ConnectedDrive updates are available with immediate effect.