BMW to provide car software updates via apps

German carmaker to roll out its in-vehicle connectivity system over next two years


The days of bringing your car to a garage to update the in-car software may be numbered as BMW unveiled plans to allow users to download apps directly from their car’s dashboard.

The German carmaker says it will roll out its in-vehicle connectivity system across its full range of cars over the next two years, moving into 14 new geographic markets this year.

The updated version of ConnectedDrive will allow consumers to add new functions through their computer or smartphone, or by using the built-in Sim card in the car.

Personalised page
By 2015, all cars that leave the BMW factory will be capable of running ConnectedDrive, and will be fitted with Sim cards to connect to 3G networks, allowing the downloading of traffic updates, news and new services directly to the car.

“Customers want to get the world they are familiar with from their PC and phone into the car,” BMW’s Peter Qintus said.

The Sim card is activated at the factory, and owners can register the car online with BMW, giving them access to a personalised page for the vehicle with information such as available apps and services, and a list of what has already been activated in the car.

Irish BMW buyers may be able to buy some of the higher- end vehicles with the integrated Sim card as soon as next month.

Customers will also be able to integrate their smartphones with the cars. Although the smartphone app for BMW currently works only on iOS, there are plans to make it available for Android in the coming weeks.

BMW intends to offer a mix of third-party apps, such as Deezer, Audible and Facebook, along with its own BMW apps. BMW is opening its own app store, ConnectedDrive Store, which will be password protected, and will work with third-party app providers to integrate their software into the system.

Apps will be linked to the car initially, but there are plans already in place to create personal accounts for users that will allow them to take certain services with them when they sell the car, including real-time traffic information subscriptions.

It is not yet known how much the ConnectedDrive apps will cost in Ireland, but users are expected to have the option of either buying services individually or in bundles.

Roaming charges will not be imposed for drivers who move outside their home country, BMW said.

Certain functions, such as the internet browser, are only available while stationary for safety reasons, but the carmaker also offers its own BMW Online service that allows customers to access news and other information in a format designed not to distract drivers.