BMW is taking its Connected infotainment system to the next level of interactivity with a feature-rich smartphone app - though you have to have an Apple iOS device such as iPhone or Apple Watch to access it.
The new BMW Connected app works like a personal organiser that links your car and phone through a secure system it terms the ‘Open Mobility Cloud’.
Available for installation in all vehicles equipped with iDrive 4 onwards (all models currently on sale feature the iDrive 5 system), BMW Connected adapts to daily routines, letting you know for example when it’s a good time to leave for work based on traffic conditions.
Using data drawn from the device’s SIM card, it can sync with your calendar and transfer appointment information from approved third-party suppliers such as Google Maps, Apple Maps and Yelp.
Once a destination has been set on your phone, the app offers a simple ‘Start Trip’ function that transfers the information to the vehicle’s navigation system, adding further convenience.
It also helps out before and after you get out of your car with functions including First Mile Navigation’ which leads you to your car if parked somewhere such as a large carpark.
The BMW Connect app can also help find petrol stations and carparks; remotely locks and unlocks the car’s doors from your device and can even flash the headlights if you’re having trouble locating your car in the dark.
It also accesses entertainment apps such as Spotify, Pandora and TuneIn Radio.
Cars equipped with the iDrive 5 can also view vehicle data including fuel status and remaining range, tyre pressures, engine oil levels, brake fluid levels and brake wear.
The system only links to the vehicle’s infotainment system and therefore has no connection or control over the vehicle’s engine and safety systems.
Any data used must first pass through highly secure servers based in BMW’s Munich headquarters. As a result, no data is shared directly to the smart device from the vehicle, or vice versa – important, in an age where ‘hacking into cars’ is very much a reality.
BMW Connect is now available in cars sold in Australia and can be retrofitted to any vehicle with iDrive 4 or later simply by syncing the system with the app, which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store for free.