BMW iDrive 9 revealed – first debut on latest X1 and 2 Series Active Tourer; new iDrive 8.5 for other models

BMW iDrive 9 revealed – first debut on latest X1 and 2 Series Active Tourer; new iDrive 8.5 for other models

In January this year, BMW announced that it would introduce iDrive 9 with the third-generation X1 as well as the second-generation 2 Series Active Tourer. Now, the company is providing more details of its new infotainment system, which replaces iDrive 8 that first made its debut on the iX.

As previously reported, iDrive 9 features BMW Operating System 9 (BMW OS 9), which itself is based on Google’s Android Automotive OS (AAOS). However, the German carmaker is only using the open source Android software as the base layer of OS 9, leaving out the Google Automotive Services (GAS) portion of AAOS. As such, it isn’t a full integration that includes services such as Google Maps and the Play Store.

In iDrive 9, there is a new QuickSelect concept that is inspired by consumer electronics such as smartphones. This follows a zero-layer principle that places all relevant functions and information on a single level, making it quicker to select a desired function without having to dive into a whole bunch of submenus.

Instead, live widgets appear in a vertical arrangement on the driver’s side of the user interface, which features updated graphics and optimised menu structure. These widgets can be selected with a swipe of the finger and configured individually, and once the desired function or settings have been dealt with, a dedicated icon brings you back to the home screen.

BMW iDrive 9 revealed – first debut on latest X1 and 2 Series Active Tourer; new iDrive 8.5 for other models

Even without the user intervening to set what they want to see on the home screen, the system actively orientates itself based on operating habits to provide the right information in the right place and at the right time, the company said in its release.

The touchscreen-based system is designed to work with the BMW Curved Display and sees less reliance on physical hardware, with the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant also available as an alternative point of interaction. Keen observers will notice the latest X1 and 2 Series Active Tourer do not come with an iDrive controller on their centre console, unlike BMWs before them.

Even with the introduction of iDrive 9, BMW isn’t leaving behind cars equipped with the relatively new iDrive 8 that debuted in 2020. According to the company, these vehicles will receive an upgrade to iDrive 8.5, which will continue to be a Linux-based system. The rollout involves the 7 Series, iX, i4, X5, X6, X7 and XM, with further models set to follow in the future.

In terms of look, the user interface of iDrive 8.5 is pretty much identical to iDrive 9 and includes the QuickSelect design concept. However, certain features like a new app store (Customer Digital Ecosystem) will only be available with iDrive 9.

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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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