BMW has been adding integration with the iPhone for its ConnectedDrive suite of features, and recently enabled calendar integration. With it, drivers will be able to see calendar appointments stored on the phone displayed on the car's center screen. The car can also read out the appointments to the driver.
BMW previously developed its ConnectedDrive support for the iPhone, but will be expanding support to Android in the coming year. The ConnectedDrive app, whether on iPhone or Android, lets owners remotely lock the doors and see data about their cars.
Pandora support has recently come to BMW models with the ConnectedDrive option. This feature requires a connected iPhone running the Pandora app. Drivers can select stations from the car interface, and give songs a thumbs up or down.
BMW has also demonstrated MOG streaming-music integration, although this app has not yet been enabled. BMW's conception for ConnectedDrive is that it will act like a butler, indexing the various entertainment and information sources, offering them up to the driver intelligently to minimize distraction.
With ConnectedDrive, BMW currently enables Twitter and Facebook feeds. To use it, a phone running the ConnectedDrive app needs to be hooked up to the car. As well as showing and reading out status updates and tweets, the system lets drivers post canned templates, letting followers know their current location, for example.
BMW ConnectedDrive also features Google local search, which integrates with the navigation system. Online local search has the advantage over a stored points-of-interest database in that it can be more current and offer a greater selection of businesses.
BMW suggests it will be aggressive about incorporating applications. Opening up application development to third party developers, the company can add new apps for existing car owners, continually refreshing onboard electronics in a way never seen before in the automotive industry.
As part of its ConnectedDrive demonstration, BMW showed off this Wikipedia app, which offers interesting details about specific locations, serving as an online tour guide. Audi has launched a similar feature in its A7 and A6 models.
All of this app technology needs an online connection. While current solutions use either a paired smartphone or a dedicated 3G connection, BMW is currently testing a fixed 4G (LTE) connection in the car. BMW says it has achieved peak download speeds of 70 mbps and an average of 23 mbps in urban areas.