RAC Cars News


The timekeeping BMW

By raccars Published

Volvo XC90

As always, BMW is keen to demonstrate renowned German efficiency

Do you remember what it was like to live without a smartphone? We're all becoming frighteningly attached to our mobile phones, and BMW plans to increase the connection even further. Cars and smartphones can already communicate in a number of helpful ways, now BMW is planning to make the two conspire unprompted to help keep you on the straight and narrow...

ConnectedDrive to learn your routine

Future BMWs will be able to learn your routine and your routes and plan them into your day. The car will "know" whether there's going to be traffic on the school run, for example, and will program in the extra time necessary to complete the journey. It will also consult your calendar and program in journey time for the tasks you have planned. These are all part of the functionality BMW has added to its ConnectedDrive Cloud app, which is to be available to about half a million BMW drivers with SIM cards installed from this month.

We buy cars according to digital services

BMW research suggests that nearly half of car buyers take digital services into account when choosing a new vehicle, and BMW plans to ensure its potential buyers can enjoy the best and most advanced digitisation functions on the market. The company is known for its tech focus and the new app will operate as a kind of virtual assistant, in the style of Siri or Cortana. The service, including the SIM card, is free of charge and has been developed with Microsoft.

The bossy BMW

While other manufacturers already offer some very clever and sophisticated interconnectivity, such as the Volvo XC90, these tend to work together only when you are in the car and need programming. Drivers will already be familiar with functions including emergency calling, real time traffic data and a concierge but BMW now plans to integrate the service still further, claiming that it's no good finding out about a traffic delay once you are in the car.

BMW's new system allows the car and smartphone to communicate remotely and automatically, and it is intelligent enough to do its own research. If you make the same journey on a daily basis it will take this into account within a few days and then warn you if it thinks the journey will take longer than usual due to accidents or traffic congestion, for example.

The system can send an alert to your smartphone or even smartwatch warning you that it's time to leave for your doctor's appointment or other calendar entry. The data is also transferable between BMW models, so a second car will warn you that you are due to be at yoga class at a certain time or that it is your niece's birthday and you need to buy her a present, for example. The system is even set up to send text messages to third parties advising them if you are likely to be delayed.

You can use either your phone or the car to perform sat nav functions as you choose, as the two will work in tandem.

You can also use the app to lock and unlock the car, to flash its headlights, to turn the air conditioning on in advance so the car is nice and cool by the time you get in, while BMW is working on a whole host of other useful features to add later.

US customers have been using this version of ConnectedDrive Cloud technology since March, together with Amazon's voice activated Echo technology, which has yet to make an impact in Europe. Inevitably there have been concerns about privacy and reliability, but BMW points out that you can easily deactivate the system.

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