Overhauled in-car tech on the way

As its rivals have abandoned traditional instrument binnacles for screens, BMW has made a conscious effort to remember its roots. Even its current digital dials pay homage to the simple, orange-lit gauges from its back catalogue – but that looks set to change.

The company used its 'Digital Day 2018' to preview the dials that will debut as part of BMW Operating System 7.0, its next-generation software base to take on the might of MBUX and the ever-improving Audi/Volkswagen Group virtual cockpits.

BMW is promising the all-digital cluster will be able to display your vital driving information (revs, speed) along with navigation data and, depending on your preferences, information in a user-defined area of the screen.

It'll also match up with the central display to create a "seamless, uniformly designed display cluster", which will be better optimised to support touchscreen integration. That central screen will have 10 configurable menu pages, with a 'flat' menu structure to make it easier to navigate.

All of this sounds complex but, given how well sorted iDrive is nowadays, we'd bank on BMW getting things right. As is currently the case, users will be able to use the system with a combination of touch, gesture, voice and rotary-knob controls.

Given Mercedes-Benz has placed a real focus on intuitive voice control with MBUX, not to mention the prevalence of smart voice assistants like Google Home, we'd be surprised if the next-gen BMW system doesn't prioritise natural (conversational, even) voice inputs.

Along with its infotainment announcements, BMW used its Digital Day to highlight the potential benefits of 5G connectivity, and to talk about how it uses artificial intelligence in developing new product.