Latest iDrive sets out to learn everything about you
Adds new graphics, new experiences, new controller
BMW has just announced one of the largest changes to iDrive since the introduction of the dial and display system 20 years ago. While once controversial, the system has become much better with time, and this latest is set to add a new generation of displays, connectivity, and controls. It will launch later this year in the BMW iX before appearing in the BMW i4 and then BMW’s other models.
It starts with a new operating system, version eight for BMW. New graphics, modern colours, futuristic textures and forms are what the automaker says the system will offer. Large screens with 200 ppi graphic resolution help make it look more modern and let the system pop visually. The digital dash can be configured using function keys on the wheel, allowing for list navigation and scrolling, while widgets change depending on the context to show more or less information, or whatever you’d like to see.
The system uses new key and radio tech to identify your approach to the BMW, then engages a wake-up sequence including intensifying lighting inside and out. It then unlocks when you get to 1.5 metres, while opening a door turns on the steering wheel and surface heating if equipped, and as needed. BMW says it can also transition a phone call seamlessly from device to car as you get in.
A new “learning navigation” system works to remember your habits and frequent destinations, anticipating your nav needs. The system is also set to learn your climate control settings, abe to adjust “all temperature and comfort functions.” It’s learned from more than 440 million customer trips, and can adjust the fan, temperature, and vents selected, but also the heated wheel, seats, and surface heating. It then learns from your own personal adjustments, taking into account occupants and even sunlight direction and intensity to make you comfortable. Linked with voice control, phrases like “my feet are cold” will adjust settings to suit. More settings will offer similar customisation drive mode parameters including steering and chassis settings, as well as adjusting the engine or motor sounds.
Over the air updates will be available, with customers allowed to schedule them for a convenient time. BMW says it will have the most OTA upgradable fleet in the world by the end of the year with 2.5 million vehicles so-equipped. BMW, through the updates, will allow for more third-party apps to be developed, making them simpler and more convenient for owners. It also includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.
BMW’s iDrive controller will remain part of the system, despite the extra screens and natural voice controls, but the version BMW displayed seems much more simple and elegant than that of past versions of the system.