BMW hasn’t pushed it smartphone app integration as much as its competitors like Ford or GM, but at last week’s New York motor show the German car manufacturer announced new partnerships with Glympse, Rhapsody, TuneIn and Audible.
Each app, as you’d expect shows up on the LCD in BMW models equipped with the app integration feature, in a style similar to other car applications, such as navigation or the hands-free phone system.
Owners of BMW Apps-ready cars just have to connect their smartphone to the car’s dashboard system to start using the new apps.
With Glympse integration, drivers of BMW’s and Mini’s will be able to broadcast their location to friends and family via Facebook and Twitter, along with their email and calendar contacts.
The system, which uses the drivers’ smartphone, is a great companion for first time drivers where love-ones might be worried about their safety and current location. The system will automatically track their position, when they’re expected to arrive and even whether they’re stuck in traffic.
Anyone receiving a Glympse update can view the sender’s location on a real-time map through a web browser, with no need to have the dedicated mobile app installed on their smartphone, tablet or computer, which makes the system really easy to use for the end user.
“With this partnership, we are excited to expand our roster of apps within the BMW Group Application Integration Program. Our drivers will be able to share where they are on the road safely, simply and with a touch of a button.”
Rhapsody, an Internet-based music service, has also announced a new partnership with BMW. Drivers will get a similar feature set to what shows up on the current smartphone app, including playlist access and the ability to download music. The app also shows album art for currently playing tracks, which is a nice touch.
BMW also announced integration of Audible, a leading provider of audio books, and will let drivers choose a recorded book and play it over the car’s stereo. The interface lets drivers change the playback speed and skip back 30 seconds at the push of a button. Because the car integrates with the app on a phone, it starts playing from the most recent stop point.
Audible book recordings integrate with Amazon’s Whispersync, so if a driver owns a book on Kindle and Audible, the last Audible book starts at the last stopping point of the Kindle version, and vice versa.
And finally TuneIn, a leading provider of internet radio, announced that BMW drivers will be able to listen to radio stations streaming over the Internet from anywhere in the world, using their phone’s mobile broadband connection.
The only problem we can see with any of these apps is: they’re only as good as the 3G networks they’re running on, which in the UK is flakey. But fast-forward 18 months, and once 4G has fully rolled out across the country, and these services will likely be competing with traditional radio for your attention for years to come.