At the BMW Innovation Days 2016 held in Munich earlier this month, the automaker announced that full-scale deployment of BMW Connected was set to begin in August, when operations commence in Europe. The range of personal mobility services will be available in 18 countries across the Continent, and will initially be available for Apple iPhone users, with Android to follow.
Europe isn’t the first area to get BMW Connected, which expands on the range of services offered via ConnectedDrive. It has actually been around since March 31, when deployment began in the United States. Very much a soft roll-out, feedback and requests received from American users during the preliminary phase of operations have been incorporated into the version that will be released in Europe. Asia is also due to feature in the initial run, the selected market being China.
Part of the company’s big push towards digitalisation, BMW Connected will provide users with a seamless service experience covering all aspects of personal mobility. These are integrated with the car, which in the future will become the ultimate smart device, according to BMW’s Digital Services and Business Models senior vice-president Dieter May
“Over the coming years, digitalisation is set to have a substantial impact on how we use our cars. Digital services will emerge that connect us fully with our personal world, no matter whether we’re out on the road or at home. The car will be transformed into a smart device – intelligently connected, seamlessly integrated and
perfectly tuned to the individual needs of each and every user. This is precisely what the first version of BMW Connected aspires to achieve,” he said.
Using a flexible platform called the Open Mobility Cloud – which builds on Microsoft Azure and processes data and information from all sorts of different sources – as a basis, BMW Connected seamlessly integrates the vehicle into the user’s digital life via multiple touchpoints, such as an iPhone or Apple Watch.
The first version of BMW Connected will focus primarily on journey management for the vehicle, a more comprehensive evolution of Mobility Assistant. Containing digital products and services designed to simplify the day-to-day planning of driving routes and appointments, the aim of BMW Connected is to get users to their destination on time and stress-free.
The digital companion comes in the form of a free, downloadable app, which combines the various functions to assist the necessary mobility requirements. A user simply has to create a BMW Connected customer profile online, and the system then scans for any mobility-related information, such as the addresses and arrival times contained in calendar entries. It is then able to notify the driver the ideal departure time for arriving at his/her destination punctually on the basis of real-time traffic information.
To ensure punctual arrival, the system offers “time to leave” notifications, which are sent to the user’s phone or Apple Watch to let them know when they have to set off in order to arrive on time. To do this, the expected driving time is regularly compared with the prevailing traffic situation.
It’s also able to dynamically recognise personal mobility patterns such as the daily drive home from work, alerting the user and suggesting an earlier departure time it has calculated for arriving home at the usual time, if traffic conditions are heavy.
Users can also transfer places and points of interest from other apps, storing them as a destination together with the desired arrival time, which can then be imported to BMW in-car navigation systems. If a destination address and desired arrival time have been set outside the vehicle via the app, the link between phone and car means this data is imported when the user climbs aboard and the transferred to the BMW navigation system, allowing route guidance to be started directly.
Other services offered by the system include Last Mile Navigation, which shows users via their mobile device the best way to get to their final destination after exiting the car, as well as sharing one’s ETA with others. Familiar BMW Remote Services have likewise been incorporated into BMW Connected, allowing a variety of functions – such as the interior climate control and vehicle locking/unlocking – to be controlled remotely from a smartphone.
Starting from September, users in the US will be able to access BMW Connected via an Alexa skill for Amazon Echo. This will enable them to get vehicle status like remaining range and execute remote commands like ‘door lock’, all through voice interaction. The next update for the system will be presented later this year, when the next-generation G30 BMW 5 Series makes its world debut.