BMW has unveiled the eighth-generation of its iDrive infotainment system, 20 years after it debuted in the BMW E65 7 Series.
The new iDrive will provide a level of intelligence and cloud-based machine learning through its new 'BMW ID' system, replacing 'BMW ConnectedDrive' to monitor repetitive driver patterns and providing suggested features.
Satellite navigation now has a feature called 'Learning Navigation', which can anticipate the habits of the driver, providing live traffic advice despite a destination not being entered via its 5G connection. For example, the system will check the usual route taken on a commute into work, and will let you know if there's an accident or traffic jam to avoid.
Its 'My Modes' function also allows for more highly-integrated presets based on who's behind the wheel, with the system remembering the specific driver's preference for the way the car performs on the road, including drive mode, transmission control, steering, suspension, and artificial engine sounds.
The system also learns both driver and occupant climate preferences, making adjustments to temperature, fan speed, seat heating and ventilation, and steering wheel heating. A pre-set configuration has also been programmed into the vehicle, which BMW says it has determined from evaluating more than 440 million customer journeys across the world.
Occupants can also talk to the car. Saying 'My feet are cold' will cause the temperature to increase in the footwell, with BMW prioritising voice control development in the new iDrive.
The iDrive 8 system will operate across a curved display, integrating a 12.3-inch information screen and a 14.9-inch control screen into one unit, with a high-definition resolution of 200 PPI. Software updates are 'over-the-air', while third-party apps (like music-streaming platforms) will be available.
The system will integrate with its new application for smartphones, to be called My BMW App, which the German car maker says will launch in the near future.
"The new BMW iDrive creates a personalised connection between human and vehicle. Its totally intuitive operation via intelligent voice control, the touch-controlled curved display and the head-up display makes it the industry’s most user-friendly and secure operating system," BMW executive Frank Weber said at the announcement.
BMW's iDrive was arguably one of the first fully-integrated infotainment systems on a production car, launched in 2001 with the intention of eliminating the dozens of buttons dedicated to climate control and media, instead using a revolutionary haptic wheel to navigate digital menus.
While the idea of a central hub to control infotainment duties has since been adopted by the industry as a whole, the first-generation iDrive was widely pilloried at the time for being overly complicated and unintuitive to use. In the generations since, BMW have reintroduced shortcut buttons to help users navigate the system more easily.