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Roadshow Video Reviews
BMW iDrive 4.2At the 2013 New York International Auto Show, BMW rolled out an update of its popular iDrive system, which now includes a 4G hot spot and four new apps.
If you watch many of my videos, you know it's no secret that BMW is at the top of the stack when it comes to in-car connectivity, app support, and basically putting CE on four wheels. Let me show you what's new in iDrive 4.2, the newest version, and some other connected technologies that go with it. And now, basic iDrive interface is not changed. You recognize this one from the recent couple of years, that will be the same. But you're going to see, they say, much finer rendering. Thanks to new graphics horsepower they're putting in here, more hard drive space, things of that nature. So, evolutionary upgrades. On top of that, I've told you before-- but not yet shown you this guy. This is the 4G adapter. It docks here on the smartphone cradle that is in the console. And what this does-- with a carrier yet to be named, by the way, so I can't tell you who it is-- it's got a sim card here, you set up an account for this device in particular. Now, it's taking advantage of short power in the car to run, here in the car to power things like your iPad on this pretty sleek BMW mount here behind the seat. They've also adapted four new apps that are now supported inside of BMW's iDrive system: Glympse for location sharing, Audible for audio books, Rhapsody, a well-known subscription music service, and TuneIn, which is also a music service, but not about music, cuts, it's about radio stations. There has already been web radio in BMW's iDrive system for a few years. This one now via parallel system. When you enter the car with TuneIn, it will automatically transfer its connectivity and playback in to the head unit as you enter the vehicle. So, a seamless experience with TuneIn in and out of the car. And one last thing coming in iDrive 4.2-- that you'll see in the newer BMWs-- is the cheater's nightmare, the ability to pair two phones at once. So, you and your wife's phone can be paired at the same time, and it merges the phonebook. So, your contacts are all there together in one scroll. But you can see where that could go left for some people. Now, a new voice command power is coming as well in the new iDrive. And in fact, it's already started in a few of their models. It lets you do much more natural language. So, when you wanna navigate somewhere, you can just say "Navigate me to" or something like that, as opposed to the exact phrase you have to use in the earlier systems. You can still blurt out the address in one phrase, "350 Hudson Avenue, New York City, New York." There's also a much more sophisticated dictation ability. In partnership with your smartphone, you can dictate more advanced e-mails or text, even edit them by voice, because they're using Dragon Voice Technology that is partly cloud-based, to actually make sense of what you're saying. But native commands on the iDrive system, well, they're still processed and handled on board in the car, so you don't need a connection to make that stuff work. Not really part of iDrive, but related because it's LCD technology, is a "coming option"-- it's in Europe now-- that would allow you to option up an all-LCD instrument panel. That's pretty sleek because it allows you to change the kinds of information you've got, and the way it's presented. You can emphasize one gauge over the other, it might change colors in sport mode, it might drop a gauge or two out of there that aren't essential at the moment. So, that will be coming as well.