New iDrive confirmed for the \’09 1 & 3 Series

We have obtained the September 2008 product marketing guide for the UK. In this guide it states a good deal of information about the upcoming release of option 609; BMW Professional Multimedia Navigation system. This document also confirms that in addition to the newly designed 7 series the 1er and 3er will also feature the new system from September onwards.

Last week we mentioned many of these iDrive features from the experiences of those who had access to the system in testing, but now we can offer up the official information.

Over the past few days we have confirmed upcoming features from official BMW announcements originating outside of the US; first the DCT in the 3er coupe (BMW Australia) and now the new iDrive (BMW UK).

While this information does not definitely mean the US or other markets will be receiving these options we have been hearing from other sources to expect these options in the Fall. BMW would need a really good reason not to offer them to its largest market in the US especially with the upcoming mid cycle refresh/ LCI (Life Cycle Impulse/ “Facelift “).

The text below is from the UK guide which can also be found in it entirety along with photos at the end of this post.

The highlights of the new system are as follows:

New iDrive Controller with more intuitive operation

High resolution Control Display with vibrant screen

Revised iDrive menu structure

Interactive help with on screen description of function

Built in hard disc drive for improved speed of operation and data storage

More detailed navigation map

New navigation options and settings to enhance route planning

Multimedia capability with 8GB storage for audio files

Improved voice control

New layout for Favourite buttons with new direct function keys (model specific)

New iDrive Controller and Control Display

The new iDrive Controller now features shortcut buttons. These provide access directly to systems which are regularly used by the driver:

CD / Multimedia Radio Telephone Navigation

The “turn-press-slide“ system previously used has been enhanced. From the Main menu a sub menu is selected by turning the controller and pressing down. To then navigate to the sub menu you then tilt to the right to open each further sub menu. This opens a window on top of the last screen. Tilting to the left moves back a screen. Using any of the shortcut buttons (CD, RADIO, TEL, NAV) at any point returns the user to the last screen used within that menu.

The other controller buttons function as follows:

MENU Returns you to the Main menu

BACK Back to the previous screen, for up to 30 steps

OPTIONS Some sub menus have settings and specific functions that can be set by using this button

Hard Disc Drive

The new system is hard disc based rather than running from a DVD map. This provides the following benefits:

Improved speed of operation Factory installed navigation map Storage capability for other data Single DVD Drive in dashboard

The navigation map can be updated by: Workshop programming system Loading an update disc in the DVD Drive

Navigation Enhancements – Route Planning

The new navigation map provides route planning enhancements:

Full screen mode 3D perspective view Assistance window Height mode Night view Travel planner (multiple stop-off points along one route)

Navigation Enhancements – Assistance Window

The following changes have been made to the functionality available within the Assistance Window: Zoom in / out separately from the main window With manual navigation destination entry, after input of several characters, a wizard type list is displayed Any list containing locations will be displayed in a map in the assistance window (eg. points of interest, traffic information) If a route is planned, the Assistance Window will highlight it, making it easy to see where a location is in relation to the route Entertainment details allows you to display details of the music you are currently playing When a destination is set the Road junction zoom is an option that will show an enlarged graphic of the junction exit on your planned route

Navigation Enhancements – Travel Planner

The new navigation system can also be used as a travel planner to plan routes with up to 30 stop-off points. When you set-up a route you can freely insert new addresses into anywhere between the start point and the destination. When a stage destination is reached the navigation system automatically sets the next destination. You can also reverse the direction of the route and save routes you have created for future use.

Multimedia Capability – Music Storage

The hard disc drive provides 8.0GB storage for audio files. Music can be stored on the hard disc from three sources:

Audio CD Data CD/DVD USB device in data port Usable storage capacity on the hard disc in 7.6GB, this will hold circa 2,000 songs at 128kbits/s. Audio CD

‘Save music to car’ function ‘rips’ the music to hard disc drive Music is converted into a WMA file with a fixed data rate of 128 kbits/s and is saved on the hard disc drive

Music can be played while the music is saved Audio CD’s ripped and saved to the hard disc drive are shown in the music collection with a CD icon by the corresponding title

Data CD/DVD ‘Save to vehicle’ function copies audio files from a data CD or DVD to the hard disc

MP3, WMA and AAC formats are compatible Audio copied to the hard disc drive is shown in the music collection with a folder icon by the corresponding title USB device ‘Import New Music (USB)’ function copies audio files from a USB device to the hard disc

MP3, WMA and AAC formats are compatible Audio copied to the hard disc drive is shown in the music collection with a folder icon by the corresponding title The new navigation system includes a new USB data port hidden in the glove box to import the music, this USB data port cannot be used to play audio files You cannot import music to the hard disc drive from option 6FL USB audio interface, located in the arm rest

The new USB data port in the glove box can be used export all of the audio files from the hard disc drive, onto an external USB device. This facility is for the customer to use if the vehicle is to visit the workshop, or if the customer is changing their vehicle.

Exported audio files can be imported back to the vehicle by uploading via the USB data port. Note: It is not possible to play music files that feature copy protection, although they will be copied to the hard disc drive from CD/DVD or USB device.

The CD / Multimedia menu includes a sub-menu which allows you to search the audio you have saved using the following criteria: Genre / Artist / Album / Track To enable use of this facility every audio file stored in the car must be encoded with data (it is called the ID3 tag). This information is not always available on an audio CD. On the hard disc drive there is 4GB space allocated to a database called Gracenote. This database is accessed when an audio CD is ripped and the audio file is saved with the track data if it is available. There will be additional options for BMW® ConnectedDrive customers to supplement missing data. The Gracenote database can also be updated during a workshop visit.

Bluetooth telephone integration

The new system supports PIM services (Personal Information Manager.) Future bluetooth handsets we recommend with PIM services will transfer the phone’s contact data to the hard disc, this will include contact addresses held in the phone memory. The car will have a ‘Central address book’. Information transferred by the phone will appear in all relevant menus (phone menu, navigation address book and Contacts.)

Voice Control

Improved voice control (where fitted.)

BMW UK Product Marketing Guide .PDF

Source: BMW UK

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  • Fascinating stuff. So much here it’s hard to know where to start. Interesting that they’re allotting 4gb for the Gracenote database and only 8gb for music!

    I also see a burgeoning aftermarket business for substantially upgrading the size of the included hard-drive.

  • Jase

    I would say it will use flash memory rather than a physical hard drive given the sizes mentioned. I doubt you could even buy a SATA or IDE drive with such small capacity any more!

  • Michael

    wow, nicely done BMW, great info Bimmerfile. concerning iDrive, the automotive press may have to find a new dog to kick.

  • Jase – Hate to tell you it clearly states: Hard Disk.

    We have been hearing hard disk for a while now and this official release states the same so it will be a hard disk initially.

  • Jase

    You may be right Michael but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen ‘hard disk’ used as a generic term for multiple types of storage. Think ‘hoover’ or ‘tivo’ as generic names for different devices.

  • Balthazar B

    40MB drives in 2.5″ size are not that uncommon (these are used for laptops and thus are not only small, but draw little power and are usually built to be shock resistant, making them good candidates for cars). Here’s one example:

  • Jase

    That’s a 40GB drive and about the smallest you will find, very common a couple of years ago in notebooks. The iDrive storage appears to be somewhere in the vicinity of 16GB, 32GB max which would suggest flash based storage as the most robust and fastest storage though not the cheapest. Think of it as iPhone/iPod Touch storage capacity within the dash.

  • Eli

    when they say that the 3 series will get the new I-drive from september, does that also mean the m3 coupe?

  • Eli-Yes

  • Ondra Soukup

    from someone who has a new 335i convertible only for 13 days…bummer :/ The iDrive gets some time getting used to…so I shoudn’t be worried 🙂

    but they’ve essentially turned it into MMI with all the favorites buttons 😀

  • Big Windy

    I hope that you are right, Michael.

  • Any of the features upgradeable to my 135? Obviously not the HD, but curious if any of the features are? My sales guy suggested upgrades would be coming.

  • Big Windy

    @GSK, I think that it is too early to know at this point. We’ll have to wait for more information and system hardware details.

  • Balthazar B

    Jase: I meant 40GB (it had been a long day…). Perhaps BMW bought up someone’s stock of 40GB drives at a can’t-refuse bargain. That said, I’d much rather have a flash drive in there for the sake of long-term reliability…

  • Dan C.

    640K ought to be enough for anybody.

  • Eli

    thanks Michael… I hope these reports are correct… I’ve called BMW North America several times and they keep insisting that the I-Drive wont be upgraded on the 3 series for 09…. however, they dont seem very knowledgeable.

  • Joe Bimmerfest

    Didn’t BMW Blog (which is run by a well-connected BMW salesperson) also state that they got official word of no USA I-Drive update in the 3-series for the 2009 model year??

  • Enzo

    Michael, thanks for the news. How confident are you this will be available on the 2009 1-Series? I am doing ED in Sept. for a MY 2008 135 but need to hurry up and change my trip and order if I think this will be on the MY 2009. Thanks!

  • 5 Rakete

    So far the 5er seems to be left out of everything: no new iDrive, no new 555i (or a 550i with the Twin-Turbo V8). I know it’s only got 1-2 model years left but this flies in the face of the predictions.

  • Brendan

    I guess I’m going to need to wait for my M3 sedan. Unless of course if I can get a super good deal on an ’08.

  • Joe Bimmerfest Jul 7th, 2008 Didn’t BMW Blog (which is run by a well-connected BMW salesperson) also state that they got official word of no USA I-Drive update in the 3-series for the 2009 model year??

    Sorry to inform you that BMWBlog is not affiliated with that individual any longer and has been run independently for quite some time. Also, you should once again realize that over the past several months they and their sources have corroborated what we have been saying all along that the 3 series will indeed receive the iDrive. “H” and the staff there have even agreed with our information and graciously linked to our site as a reference. We have no ill will towards them and respect their efforts and sources, things in the world of BMW can change at a moments notice and not all sources know all about a said item or the specifics of how, when, where and why… some of them just design stuff or build stuff…. They do a great job as well, just different sites, sources and styles.

    We have broken much of the information about iDrive and the 3 series facelift thanks to our sources and official documents we have been able to obtain; we strive to provide the most accurate information available and always check our facts as best we can. That said we stand by our information and hope that it speaks for itself. I think the information we obtain is much better than a “well connected salesperson” can obtain and (many sales people have even commented that they get their information here even before centernet) but that is my biased opinion.

    Later on you will see some more evidence of the iDrive in the 3 bound for the US…. Just remember BMW has told us the 335d would be here in the fall several times but for some reason it is not in the ordering guides…. hmmm Maybe BMW is trying to get rid of the huge inventory of cars in the south, west and mid west before announcing all the improvements for the 09 year; nah they wouldn’t do that; would they ? 🙂

    Expect the official LCI information on July 18th.

  • bsd107

    I love the upgrades to iDrive, but I have to say that 128kbit WMA format for sound files is NOT acceptable. Not in a car like this, where you spend lots of money on the factory sound system.

    BMW really needs to add the ability to rip, and/or compatability with, Windows Media Lossless and Apple Lossless.

    If I’m ripping music for the car, I don’t want to have to use a lossy audio format like MP3, WMA or ACC. I know this is suitable for most people (but even for them, 128kbit is too low of a bitrate). But this should NOT be the only option for a BMW…..

  • bsd107

    BMW needs to sort out the iPhone snap-in integration. The OEM BMW Snap-In adapter for iPhone is excellent, but it does not allow use of 6FL at the same time, so you lose iPod functionality.

    Here’s hoping that BMW sorts that issue out – it should be a relatively simple issue of a wiring harness adapter to integrate 6FL into Snap-In….

  • bsd107

    Anyone been able to verify whether the navigation data will be user-upgradable via DVD, or whether the dealer will have to install?

    I see the concept of dealer-only upgrades as a major PITA. I’ve been using a BMW nav since 1999, and back then single region CD-ROMs cost ~$80 per year, with two discs per year. Now I see that an annual DVD is $199. This is only going to be way more expensive if the dealer is also involved. Let me buy the DVD upgrade and stick it in myself for copy to the car’s hard drive – these things are easy…..

  • BSD107: “The navigation map can be updated by: Workshop programming system Loading an update disc in the DVD Drive”

    Info I received over a year ago stated that BMW was developing the new system to be updated via the DVD drive so that customers could perform the upgrade on their own or they could also choose to have the center perform the update. To you and I putting a DVD in the drive and completing an install is not a big deal and we view it as a benefit to perform these things without the dealer. There are others that would say it is a nuisance and/or they do not have the ability to …. There en-lies the reason why dealer is still an option.

    They were also working on the ability to perform other updates in the same manner and through connected drive….

    Hope that helps!

  • Dave

    Bah, I am taking delivery of my 08 135i with Nav this week (USA). Nobody will confirm nor deny the USA getting these options MY2009. Not sure whether to cancel the order and reorder in August and wait 4 months to get the cool toys.

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