BMW Operating System 9 to debut on the X1 SUV from Q2 2023 – powers new iDrive 9 infotainment system

BMW Operating System 9 to debut on the X1 SUV from Q2 2023 – powers new iDrive 9 infotainment system

BMW has announced that it will begin offering the new BMW Operating System 9 on selected X1 models in the United Kingdom from the second quarter of this year, as part of an initial pilot phase. The German carmaker had already announced last year that it would use Google’s Android Automotive OS (AAOS) for its operating system that powers the brand’s iDrive infotainment system.

The new OS 9 (used for iDrive 9), supersedes Operating System 8 (used for iDrive 8), with the latter first making its debut in 2021 on the iX. Several other BMW models have since received iDrive 8, which comes with the Curved Display, like the i4, 2 Series Active Tourer, 2 Series Coupe, 3 Series facelift, 7 Series, iX1, X1 and XM.

“This new operating system opens the door to an extended range of apps, optimised touch control and more frequent updates. Additional BMW compact class models will follow suit in other countries over the course of 2023,” the company said in its release.

Earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), BMW previewed OS 9 and told BMW Blog that the second-generation X2 as well as new MINI models would get iDrive 9. It also said that OS 9 requires new hardware, so existing cars with OS 8 cannot be upgraded to OS 9.

While it may appear that iDrive 8 is going to be short-lived, BMW said that current cars with the “older” system will be updated to iDrive 8.5. This will have the same look and user interface as iDrive 9, but certain features like a new app store (Customer Digital Ecosystem) won’t be available.

Stephan Durach, senior vice president of connected company development at BMW Group, explained that the difference in basic coding platforms (as well as hardware) each car uses is the reason why the entry-level X1 and X2 will get iDrive 9, but the flagship 7 Series only gets iDrive 8.5. Durach added that iDrive 8-equipped cars have Linux-based systems, whereas the newer X1, X2 and upcoming MINI models (Aceman, Cooper) have Android-based systems.

It should also be noted that BMW will only be using the open source Android software as the base layer of OS 9 and will leave out the Google Automotive Services (GAS) portion of AAOS, so it isn’t a full integration with services like Google Maps and the Play Store. Companies like Rivian, Lucid and Maserati are going down this path, while Volvo opted to include GAS in its infotainment software.

In the X1, you’ll notice there isn’t a rotary controller that is typical of iDrive systems since 2001. This is because iDrive 9 will be primarily touchscreen-based, and BMW plans on even more advanced voice recognition to be an important form of interaction. However, Autoblog reports that larger, more expensive models will retain the iDrive controller as they make the transition, likely to accommodate an older audience that may not like tapping on a screen for everything.

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Gerard Lye

Originating from the corporate world with a background in finance and economics, Gerard’s strong love for cars led him to take the plunge into the automotive media industry. It was only then did he realise that there are more things to a car than just horsepower count.


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