It’s hard to remember automaker word soup and what all of it means. BMW’s ConnectedDrive is basically its mobility communications center within its iDrive computer system, if that makes any sense. And it’s one of the most complex units out there.
For 2013, it’s about to get a few more functions. In its updated ConnectedDrive suite, BMW is adding a three-dimensional navigation screen, a full speech recognition system that can compose short text messages and emails, a recorder for voice memos, a touchpad for its iDrive controller that allows users to spell out characters and use the navigation, a 4G LTE wireless hotspot, and third-party phone app support.
BMW’s infotainment system’s computer has a 1.3 GHz processor and a dedicated 3D graphics chip. In redesigning its functions, BMW retained a similar layout to its 2012 version, albeit with 3D layering and spatial separation on-screen. The navigation system will display terrain outside of built-up areas but will automatically switch to a standard map when the driver is getting near to his or her destination or the area is too dense to differentiate otherwise.
Additionally, the navigation system now allows maps to be tilted, and it can automatically adjust destination times based on traffic patterns, using a 3G wireless signal.
BMW’s ConnectedDrive also allows two phones to be connected to the Bluetooth wireless system at once, and it will integrate both cell phone’s call lists jointly in its menu. It can also be programmed to integrate a smartphone’s calendar on the iDrive screen.
The 2013 system also benefits from a 20 GB hard drive for music storage, a split-screen function, handwriting recognition that can read as many as 28,000 characters in Chinese-market vehicles, and simpler speech recognition that is similar to how people actually talk.
BMW is bringing its new ConnectedDrive out starting with some 2013 models including the 6 Series and 7 Series most immediately in the summer and fall, but it should be trickling to other products as they come out. With as much as BMW and other automakers are starting to integrate into cars, it makes you wonder how much greater a technological frontier there is left to go.