BMW announced on Wednesday its intent to support what is probably the most obscure and overlooked new feature in Apple's iOS 4: iPod Out. This feature allows a connected iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, or iPod Touch (second or third generation) to output and display an iPod interface on a connected device's external screen. That device, in this case, would be a future BMW or Mini vehicle.
Rather than displaying BMW or Mini's iPod interface, the connected vehicle would display Apple's own interface, which will be controllable with the vehicle's controls. Users will be able to control the iPod's music playback and browse their music catalog, playlists, podcasts, and Genius mixes.
The iPod Out interface should be immediately familiar to anyone who's used an older iPod Classic device and features simple text-based menus and album artwork on the Now Playing screen. Navigating the iPod interface has always been super simple using Apple's click wheel. We wonder how easily it will be navigated with BMW's iDrive controller.
The benefit of using the iPod Out connection is that it allows the interface to change and grow with the connected iPhone or iPod. If Apple adds, changes, or removes an iPod feature in the next revision, the connected BMW or Mini should immediately be able to reflect those changes. The move to iPod Out probably also makes life a bit easier for BMW's interface design engineers. Why go through the trouble of developing your own iPod interface when Apple has already done the work for you?