The software was previewed at the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show, and is expected to debut in the upcoming iX electric SUV.
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BMW has previewed an updated version of its iDrive digital infotainment system at the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show.

The new infotainment system is expected to debut in the much anticipated all-electric 2021 iX SUV, before being phased in across the range.

BMW was light on detail however the teaser image shows that BMW will likely succumb to the trend of super-wide screens. It also seems BMW will retain the rotary controller that was introduced with the technology 20 years ago.

Tech website DigitalTrends said the new format of iDrive will better embrace gesture and voice control – and interact with the car’s onboard sensors.

“Digital intelligence has been introduced into cars, optimized sensors now allowing them to perceive and analyze their surroundings,” said BMW's media statement. “This means that, in many situations, the vehicle has access to a greater supply of information than the driver.”

Above: the first generation iDrive digital infotainment system.

The iDrive digital system first appeared 20 years ago, in the 2001 BMW 7 Series.

At that time the system comprised a low-resolution colour screen and a single centre console-mounted rotary dial.

While BMW was praised at the time for its innovative approach to reducing the number of buttons in vehicle cabins, the technology was notoriously complicated, glitchy, and difficult to use.

Over the next two decades BMW introduced numerous updates to iDrive, many of which included a return to buttons for some basic functions.