BMW has announced the release of the BMW Connected app, which lets drivers use their iPhones to bring Internet applications such as Twitter, Facebook, and Internet radio stations into their vehicles. The new app works for all BMW vehicles produced after March, according to a BMW spokesperson. BMW previously launched app support in its Mini brand, with the MINI Connected app, which displays popular social media apps on the car's head unit and gives driving efficiency reports.
The BMW Connected app acts as a gateway that enables the car to replicate a specified set of iPhone app features on the in-dash navigation unit. With the BMW Connected app, the driver will be able to read and update Facebook and Twitter (presumably only while the car isn't in motion) and access thousands of Internet radio music stations, controlling them with iDrive. The app's Plugin feature displays and controls the iPhone's music library on the car's LCD, including album artwork and Genius playlists. The Plugin also displays video podcasts on the screen while the vehicle is stationary.
Although support has been announced only for Twitter, Facebook, and Internet radio, the carmaker indicated that it will work with other other third-party apps in the future.
iPhones aren't the only handsets that BMW will integrate with. E-mail integration for BlackBerrys has already been announced, and in all likelihood will include the ability to tweet, keep up with Facebook, and stream Pandora. However, for the moment, Android users appear to be locked out of BMW's connected car.
BMW uses QNX's automotive platform to integrate smartphones in the vehicles. To bring Internet applications into the car, QNX's platform uses Nokia Terminal Mode and iPod Out, which replicates smartphone screens on the vehicle's head unit.
Google has not yet announced support for Terminal Mode with Android, but new members of the consortium to support the standard will be announced at the upcoming Terminal Mode Summit 2011 in Tokyo on March 23. When asked if BMW will support Android, a spokesperson for the auto manufacturer said in an e-mail that the company is working to support additional platforms.