- BMW Connected explained
- Works using an app on your phone
- Parkers explains the tech
BMW Connected is the name for the digital connectivity now built into every new BMW car. From July 2017, it was supplemented by BMW Connected+, an upgraded suite of services which help owners with tasks such as navigation and communicating with friends, family and colleagues while on the road.
BMW Connected was launched in March 2016 and is now built into 8.5 million vehicles worldwide. So even if you’re buying a nearly new BMW, you may find it has more digital features than you thought.
How does BMW Connected work?
Every new BMW now comes with a SIM card, allowing owners to connect to the car wherever they are via a smartphone. Download the BMW Connected app from the app store for your Android or iOS device, and you can then control many features remotely. For instance, you can check the location of your car if you forget where you parked; check it’s locked while out for dinner; or set the climate control to cool it on a hot day or warm the cabin in winter.
BMW Connected+ sat-nav, for example, is capable of taking data from the internet and other users, meaning the map will include weather forecasts at your destination and real-time warnings of hold-ups or bad weather en route.
Another feature is the remote operation of cabin heating and cooling. This can be used to pre-programme the air-conditioning so that it works for up to 30 minutes before departure.
BMW Connected also lets your car access your work calendar, syncing with Microsoft Exchange to pull in meeting data and navigating you to your next appointment without any need to set a destination manually. You can have emails read out, dictate messages and accept or decline meetings on the move.
How safe or unsafe this could potentially be, is another matter, so drivers must ensure they're in full control of the vehicle at all times when using BMW Connected features.
The navigation will monitor live traffic conditions and advise you when to leave your desk, calculating the time to walk or cycle to your car taking into account the time of day and flow of traffic.
All this information can be beamed to the app on your phone or digital devices such as the Apple Watch, Samsung wearables or the Amazon Echo, making ‘the last mile’ part of your trip more seamless as you no longer have to scramble your phone’s navigation for the last leg of the journey on foot.
How much does BMW Connected cost?
It’s standard on every new BMW sold in the UK and comes with no monthly subscription or cost for the whole life of the car - so free in other words.
And because it relies on the app and cloud computing, frequent over-the-air updates are pushed out, meaning new functions and features are released from week to week with no need for hardware upgrades.
And what does BMW Connected+ do for me?
This adds premium features designed for business users. It was first launched in summer 2017 in executive cars such as the 5 Series, where 65% of owners are businessmen and women.
BMW Connected+ adds extra functionality on top of the standard features: it can check your fuel level or electric charge range and re-route you to make sure you can arrive at your destination without running out. You can also share your ETA and journey progress with friends or contacts, meaning you’ll spend less time fussing about being on time for your next appointment.
From autumn 2017, it will also sync with Skype conference calls, and, in future, BMW plans to upgrade Skype to include video calls from the car. Again, how safe this is is down to the driver's discretion.
BMW uses machine learning, or artificial intelligence, to predict users’ needs and habits. The car will attempt to suggest your likely routes, destinations and entertainment preferences based on your typical day-to-day usage. All this data transfers with the owner from vehicle to vehicle, thanks to the portable BMW ID, so your preferences will follow you if you step into another BMW car.
How much does BMW Connected+ cost?
BMW Connected+ is a premium service which will be bundled into new BMWs for a year but will then carry an annual subscription fee when that lapses.
At the time of writing, that means a one-off price of £15 a year to upgrade to the new BMW Connected+ services.
All BMWs now come with BMW Connected. The upgraded Connected+ features are launching in late summer/autumn 2017.
All manufacturers are focusing on connectivity nowadays. Anything which brings online services to the car is a rival to BMW's system.