One problem not entirely solved by phone and automakers is destination portability. Too often, I've had to read an address off my phone and type it into a car's navigation system. BMW's new Connected app, demonstrated for me at the Microsoft Build conference in San Francisco, goes a long way towards solving that problem. And more, it even anticipates places I might want to go.
This new BMW Connected app, currently available at the iTunes store for iOS devices and which BMW calls a Personal Mobility Companion, reads your calendar and puts the address for any upcoming appointments at the top of a destinations list, also taking traffic into account to show drive time. Likewise, the longer you use it, the more it learns about your habits. Head to work every weekday around 8:30, and it will begin putting your work address at the top of the destinations list. If traffic is particularly bad, the app can send a notification, letting you know to hit the road a little earlier.
Even more convenient, you can look up places in other apps such as Yelp, and share those destinations with the BMW Connected app, so no need to retype addresses from app to app.
Pairing the phone with a BMW car equipped with Connected Drive, you can then seamlessly view the app's destinations on the car's LCD, and enter them as destinations for the car's navigation system with a single button touch. A BMW spokesperson demonstrated how he could, once the destination was active, send a preformatted text message with estimated time of arrival to another contact on the calendar invitation.
BMW demonstrated its new app at the Microsoft Build conference because the cloud component of this new service runs on Microsoft's Azure cloud platform. Azure supports machine learning to examine your destinations based on time of day, using that knowledge to predict where you might want to go at any given time. Sanjay Ravi, Microsoft Managing Director for Automotive, pointed out how Azure uses the maximum number of security certificates available to ensure none of this data becomes compromised.
Although the app is only currently available for iOS, BMW will expand it to Android in the near future. During my demonstration, I saw how it could use Apple Maps or Google Maps, or any other map app you prefer. Likewise, it is agnostic as to which calendar app you use.
BMW already has an app called Connected Drive that integrates a variety of third party apps with the car. During my demonstration, I was assured that this functionality would be transitioned into the new app, but until it does, you might be juggling a few BMW apps.