Spotify launches in BMW dashboards

At the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, BMW announced it added Spotify to its roster of ConnectedDrive apps.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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Wayne Cunningham/CNET

BMW ConnectedDrive with Spotify
BMW showed off its new Spotify integration, letting drivers access Spotify streaming music in the dashboard. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

LOS ANGELES -- BMW includes a long roster of apps for its ConnectedDrive system, with Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Music, GoPro, Aupeo, Pandora and Glympse to name a few. At the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, Peter Burgner, in charge of BMW's AppCenter, showed me the latest addition, Spotify.

BMW demonstrated the integration for me in a new 4-series, although the system works with any BMW that includes the app integration suite. As with other apps, Burgner had to plug his iPhone, running both the BMW ConnectedDrive and Spotify apps, into the car's USB port. Using the 4-series' iDrive controller to bring up the ConnectedDrive menu, the Spotify logo showed up in the list of available apps.

Clicking it, Burgner brought up the primary play screen, showing track information and album art. In a vertical band on the left of the screen, icons included favoriting and browse options. Burgner showed me the extensive playlists he could access, both public and personal. One set used the car's location to show country-based playlists, while another has specific travel themes, such as the morning commute.

To minimize distraction, the interface doesn't allow you to enter artist or track names, limiting users to browsing their saved playlists. Burgner said that BMW worked with the Spotify automotive team to ensure the interface was appropriate for in-car use.

As with the standard Spotify service, users can choose 128 kbps or 320 kbps audio streaming. However, the higher bit rate will use more of your phone's monthly data allotment and will potentially need to buffer depending on the quality of the data connection.

Spotify integration for BMW supports both free and subscription accounts. ConnectedDrive integration is currently only available for iOS. Burgner said BMW was working on Android development.

BMW ConnectedDrive with Spotify
Among Spotify's public playlists is a section devoted to driving themes. Wayne Cunningham/CNET