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by David Zalstein

The next generation of the BMW ConnectedDrive technology has been updated with new features, headlined by a new iDrive controller comprising a 45mm multi-touch touch-sensitive pad designed to make function control easier, faster and more intuitive.

The system improvements see a display rendered entirely in 3D, extra navigation, in-car mobile internet hotspot, smartphone application integration, a 20GB multimedia hard drive, real-time traffic updates and weather information.

BMW ConnectedDrive - 1

The new iDrive controller’s touchpad not only allows users to navigate through menus, maps and websites but also lets characters be entered with the use of a finger with its handwriting recognition capabilities.

BMW says the touch surface will initially debut across Chinese markets from July 2012 due to the expected popularity of the system. With the Chinese language having several thousand characters and as many as 21 strokes per character, entering text is far more complex compared to the Latin alphabet. The new handwriting recognition software however, narrows character selection down considerably with every stroke entered.

BMW ConnectedDrive - 3

The BMW Navigation system Professional incorporates a fresh display concept making the contents clearer and functions easier to use. For the first time, individual menus are presented entirely in virtual, three-dimensional spaces with calculations performed in real time while detailed navigation information is now displayed in the multifunction instrument cluster, central information display and on the head-up display.

A new ‘3D City Models’ navigation view option provides a realistic depiction of surrounding streets and buildings, providing visualisations for the city in question are stored in the vehicle’s database, helping drivers get their bearings when travelling.

BMW ConnectedDrive - 2

Another feature of ConnectedDrive is the mobile office, allowing two phones to be connected to the vehicle simultaneously. This includes importing contact details from both phones as well as emails and calendar information.

Mobile office also includes a dictation function with full speech recognition. This means drivers are able to compose emails and short text messages by voice alone leaving their hands free to focus on driving.

Having been the first car maker to offer a built-in navigation system in 1994, BMW will be hoping the “straightforward, intuitive and quick” updated ConnectedDrive system continues to break new ground and impress its drivers.




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