Currently reading: BMW connected cars set for major software update
Latest-generation BMW models will gain cloud-based navigation and smartphone-based digital keys

BMW will begin rolling out its biggest connected car software update yet next month, bringing a range of new services and features to some of the most popular models in its line-up.

The free update will bring cloud-based navigation to BMW Maps, enable the recently announced Digital Key technology for Apple iPhones, and redesign the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, as well as introduce wireless Android Auto for the first time.

A new eDrive Zone function will also allow plug-in hybrid models to automatically switch into electric driving mode when entering designated 'green zones', with over 80 cities worldwide supported at launch.

Every car launched with the company's Operating System 7 software will be eligible for the update, including the latest 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series and BMW X5. It will now come pre-installed on those models as they leave the factory, while existing customers can expect to receive an over-the-air update in the coming months.

“Digital technologies belong to the core of BMW – because hardware and software are of equal importance for premium cars," BMW chairman of the board of management Oliver Zipse said at the announcement, which took place using virtual reality as a result of lockdown restrictions. "Our mission is to integrate advanced digital technologies with highest product excellence to enhance our customers’ experience and driving pleasure even more.”

Bmw maps fullscreen

BMW Maps will use cloud computing to calculate routes remotely, taking live traffic data into account, and monitor the parking situation at your chosen destination based on the size of your car. It will be able to notify drivers of adverse road conditions or accident black spots based on reports from other connected BMW cars. An on-screen range radius will also be added for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, indicating how far it's possible to travel before needing to recharge – and, if required, BMW Maps will automatically add rapid-charging stations when planning a new route. 


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Smartphone-based unlocking will only be available on new cars built from July onwards. iPhone owners with the latest version of iOS will then be able to unlock and start their car using only their smartphone, with an option to share access with up to four other users. The holder of the master key may also set speed and horsepower limits before giving inexperienced drivers access. BMW is set to be the first manufacturer to offer the technology, which Apple announced at its annual developer conference earlier this month.

A redesign for the Intelligent Personal Assistant will add more motion to BMW's Siri-like voice interface, with animations that react differently to driver and passenger. A new home screen widget gives the assistant greater presence on the dashboard, and it gains the ability to change driving modes for the first time. A new routines feature lets you automate certain features based on location, so the car could automatically open the driver's window when you reach a parking barrier when driving to work.

Bmw intelligent personal assistant widget

The July update will also see the company's ConnectedDrive Store expanded to offer 'test drives' of new features for a month, rather than commit to the one year, three year or lifetime purchase currently offered. Presently, cars fitted with the correct hardware can enable high beam assist, active cruise control or adaptive M suspension after the initial purchase, but BMW plans to greatly expand its offering when the iNext electric SUV arrives in 2021. These purchases would be tied to the car, rather than the user, and wouldn't be transferable when a customer trades in for a newer model.

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According to BMW, it currently has more than 14 million connected cars in customer hands, which are all capable of sending and receiving live data. The company claims its fleet drives 98.5% of the entire German motorway network each day, and detects more than 25 million traffic signs worldwide every 24 hours using machine learning. Data is gathered anonymously, but customers have the option to opt out if they prefer.

Once downloaded, the July update should take around 20 minutes to install.


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Peter Cavellini 2 July 2020

Not me.

Won't affect mine, it's getting swapped for an X2 (Motobility car scheme) which isn't included.

mrking 2 July 2020

a step too far

I'm basically interested in technology and accepting of new stuff, but it's getting a bit ridiculous when you ask the car "are my tyre pressures ok". You only basically care when they are not, and there's generally a bloody great light that comes on if that's the case. Who wants to drive along having a conversation with the car? Also agree that Google maps basically blows everything else away, just use android auto or the apple thing and you have the best a person can get, all updated and reliable and free. It's a solution looking for a problem, all this gesture and voice crap.

xxxx 2 July 2020

This is what I've been waiting for

Be handy for the rac to find your broken down BMW.