Whenever BMW releases a new app for Connected Drive, even if we never heard of said app, excitement ensues. Early last week, BMW announced the availability of Life360 for BMW Connected Drive. From the App Store description, “Life360 is the world’s leading location-sharing app, and is the best way to stay connected to family, friends, and everyone in between.” It joins a group of great applications already on the platform, including: Glympse (BF’s favorite), Spotify, and MINI Connected XL Journey Mate among others.
Official Release: BMW and MINI are integrating Life360 – a family app enjoying considerable global popularity – into their vehicles. 50 million families around the world already use Life360 to stay connected with their friends and relations.
Whether planning dinner together, meeting up with a car pool or wanting to make sure that the kids or grandparents have made it home safely, the Life360 app allows families and friends to communicate easily and bring each other quickly up to speed. After signing up to a new private “circle”, users can share their location and make phone calls or chat online. They can also choose to switch off the location-sharing function. It is also possible to create several groups, although members of different circles, such as close and extended family, can only view one another if they are also members of the same group.
The integration of Life360 into BMW ConnectedDrive and MINI Connected allows the car’s navigation system to guide the driver to a circle member’s current location directly through the app. Telephone conversations with group members can likewise be made directly from the application via the car’s audio system. All that’s required is a live Bluetooth connection between the phone and the car.
The Life360 app is certified for use in BMW and MINI cars with the Apple iPhone and can be downloaded free of charge from the Apple App Store.
BMW ConnectedDrive and MINI Connected: neatly integrated smartphone apps for a wide range of services and features
The integration of smartphone apps into BMW and MINI cars enables BMW ConnectedDrive and MINI Connected to offer users a steadily and rapidly expanding range of services and features. The Apps for Automotive (A4A) interface developed by BMW allows BMW and MINI to seamlessly integrate smartphone apps from third-party suppliers into their cars. These applications are not simply shown in the car’s display – their functionality is integrated into the car with maximum usability and the smoothest possible control logic. These BMW-certified apps meet the same requirements in terms of safety and ease of use as every other vehicle function that is operated by the BMW iDrive Controller or MINI Controller and displayed in the BMW Control Display or MINI Centre Instrument.
The innovative A4A interface ensures that current and future models can be equipped with the latest apps at any time via BMW ConnectedDrive and MINI Connected, bringing exceptional flexibility to all BMW and MINI models and ensuring they keep pace with future developments. All that’s required are a connectivity platform – already provided by ConnectedDrive Services (with BMW apps) or MINI Connected – and a smartphone hooked up with the car via a snap-in adapter or USB cable.
Some of the most prominent applications that can be used in BMW and MINI models are summarised below:
n-tv (Apple iOS) – News channel n-tv is one of the leading information carriers in the German media
Reports from the worlds of politics, business, sport and technology are complemented by a football ticker, Formula One ticker and weather bulletins. The latest financial news is a recognised focal point of n-tv’s reporting. The n-tv editors offer a special compact news service via the smartphone app (available free of charge from the Apple App Store) in the form of audio files. The news items are read by a professional newsreader and provide a summary of the most important developments at any given time.
Spotify (Apple iOS) – Music service
One of the world’s most popular music streaming services for smartphones, tablets, computers and home entertainment systems, Spotify has more than 50 million users and over 12.5 million paying subscribers across 58 countries.
Deezer (Apple iOS) – Music service
This comprehensive music experience is available in 182 countries and offers a back catalogue of more than 30 million music tracks which can be played on mobile devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets as well as on home audio systems, integrated in-car devices and computers.
Napster/Rhapsody (Apple iOS) – Music service
Napster offers access to 25 million songs of every genre – including rock, pop and soul – as well as classical music, jazz and thousands of audio books. Napster’s music experts compile playlists and tracks from specific artists and help users to discover new work. Live sessions, exclusive interviews and spoken content are also part of Napster’s portfolio. Access (via BMW ConnectedDrive and MINI Connected) is through Napster in Europe and Napster’s parent company Rhapsody in the USA.
Amazon Music (previously Amazon Cloud Player, Apple iOS) – Music service
Amazon Music allows access to 27 million music tracks, which can be downloaded onto a smartphone or streamed. Many tracks have an AutoRip function, through which the track is available for mobile devices in MP3 form even if it has been purchased in a different format.
TuneIn Radio Free/TuneIn Radio Pro (Apple iOS) – Internet radio
Over 50 million listeners tune in to TuneIn every month. This gives them access to 100,000 FM, AM, HD and internet radio stations and two million on-demand programmes from every continent. BMW ConnectedDrive and MINI Connected support both the charge-free version and the ad-free Pro option.
Audible (Apple iOS) – Audio books and other audio content
The world’s largest provider and producer of digital spoken content offers more than 130,000 audio programmes. BMW ConnectedDrive and MINI Connected allow Audible customers to access their libraries via the iDrive operating system and MINI Controller.
myKIDIO (Apple iOS; only BMW) – In-car entertainment for children
This app lays on age-appropriate and organised content, such as TV series, films, audio books and audio plays, to make long journeys that much more entertaining for children travelling in the car. This app requires both an iPhone and an iPad, which displays the content in the rear of the car. Then there is the BMW Kids Cockpit journey monitor, which shows the latest information on the journey, including the car’s speed and the remaining duration of the travel. The content shown on the iPad can be easily and safely controlled by parents using the BMW iDrive operating system.
Glympse (Apple iOS) – GPS-based location information
This app allows you to inform other users of your location for a set period of time. The timespan involved ranges from a few minutes to several hours. It’s a handy way, for example, of letting people know your expected arrival time without having to call ahead.
M Laptimer (Apple iOS; only BMW) – Driving analysis tool
This application was developed by M GmbH for ambitious BMW drivers. Telemetry data is sent directly from the car’s sensors to the connected Apple iPhone – a function that clearly sets this application apart from other such tools. The M Laptimer app records data including acceleration, braking points, lap times and g-force, and also offers a comparison function which allows drivers to measure their stats against other motorists’. Virtual laps can be played back in animated form for comparison purposes and shared via e-mail, Twitter or Facebook.
GoPro app (Apple iOS) – Camera remote control
GoPro cameras are compact, robust, easy to operate, very small and handy to use. All of which makes them ideally suited to recording spectacular sport and leisure activities in photo or video form. On a race track, for example, the cameras can be attached to either the inside or the outside of the car to provide the perfect record of hot laps. The GoPro app for the iPhone, available free of charge from the Apple App Store, enables intuitive remote control of the GoPro camera via smartphone. For example, options such as video, recording mode or photo burst can be selected.
BMW Connected app (Apple iOS / Google Android)
This free app allows access to Twitter, connects to radio stations around the world via web radio and leads you to your final destination after you’ve parked the car courtesy of its Last Mile function. The application can also guide you back to your parking space on request. Other integrated functions include a calendar, Wiki Local (for useful information from your local area) and news via the latest RSS feeds. The BMW Connected app also reveals the latest range of certified smartphone apps.