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Car and Driver: BMW Connected Drive North America App Debuts, Wants to Assist You


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BMW Connected North America


At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in January, BMW offered peeks at its idea of a fully connected future, one which revolves around the so-called “Internet of Things.” The Internet of Things is the notion that connected devices, homes, cars, and appliances can all talk to one another, leading to new dimensions of automation and man-machine cooperation. We’re still waiting on that C-3PO personal assistant, but in the meantime, one of BMW’s CES debuts, an app-based personal assistant, is already coming to market here in the U.S. It debuted in consumer-ready form at the Microsoft Build 2016 developer conference, as it uses Microsoft’s Azure cloud tech.


BMW Connected North America


The BMW Connected North America app, available for iOS users, is considered a “personal mobility companion” by BMW and is part of the existing BMW ConnectedDrive app and infotainment ecosystem. As outlined at CES, the app can estimate travel times to commonly visited destinations (for example, your commute home) and warn of delays or prompt you to leave via an iPhone or iWatch notification to get you there on time. Likewise, calendar events with addresses attached are automatically uploaded to the BMW app so it can keep tabs on your departure times. Other destinations can be added to one’s Connected North America profile via the app, where they can be stored until the phone is paired to the car or the user sends them to the car ahead of time. The app can also text your friends or family members to let them know you’re on your way. Of course, the app also offers remote locking/unlocking capability, as well as the ability to honk the car’s horn, flash its lights, and start the climate-control system.


As we pointed out when the Connected app idea was floated at CES, the BMW setup is neat but not hugely different in concept from Google’s Android mobile platform—which can pull information from a variety of built-in apps to perform similar feats of keeping users on time for appointments and providing navigation directions to said appointments. Of course, the BMW app can interface seamlessly with BMW’s in-car infotainment and navigation systems, but then so, too, can Android phones in cars with phone-mirroring business like Android Auto (or Apple CarPlay, for iOS users). If you must connect your life to BMW’s ecosystem, however, BMW Connected North America seems like the one and only choice.


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