Tech Feature Friday: Tweeting in a 2012 BMW 650i
BMW Apps lets you update your status and more via popular social media platforms.
Depending on your viewpoint, being behind the wheel is either a welcome break from the constant chatter of social media or leaves you feeling cut off from your Facebook friends and Twitter feed. But BMW keeps you in the social media mix, even while behind the wheel, with BMW Apps.
Owners of vehicles equipped with a navigation system can add the optional BMW Apps feature. A free BMW Connected application that’s available only for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 with iOS 4.2 or higher has to be downloaded onto the device. The app then allows access to Facebook and Twitter accounts through the iPhone, either when it’s affixed to a center-console dock for the device or tethered to the car via a USB cable.
With the phone, app and car synced, drivers can check their Facebook and Twitter feeds and even update their status and more -- even while driving at highway speeds.
I recently tested these features in a 2012 BMW 650i, which included BMW Apps as a $250 option. Downloading the app, syncing it with my social media accounts and accessing the features via the iDrive controller was simple enough. You can then view status updates from your Facebook friends and those you follow on Twitter on the in-dash screen. You can also post pre-programmed status updates, most of which are BMW-centric, such as “I’m online in my BMW with BMW Connected.” Or “It’s chilly outside! Fortunately I’m sitting in my nice warm BMW.”
If you don’t want such pro-BMW posts to be a permanent part of your online profile, the system automatically recognizes the music you’re listening to on the connected device and allows you to post something like, “Listening to 'Autobahn' by Kraftwerk.” Or it pulls data from the car’s navigation system on a programmed destination and the estimated time of arrival to post a message like, “Arriving in Beverly Hills at about 1 p.m.”
It also reads posts aloud, although in a robotic voice that’s sometimes hard to decipher -- particularly when it tries to recite the type of shortened URLs that are common on Twitter. You can also add a “Like” to posts or comments on Facebook via an on-screen button. You can also choose to read posts and Tweets right there on the screen, even while the car is moving, which we're shocked has yet to become a lightning rod for distracted-driving watchdogs. Check out my on-the-road experience in the video below (shot on a shaky Flip camera by my son).
Other BMW Apps features include Wiki Local, which uses the crowd-sourced service to act as a virtual tour guide, shown at work in the bottom video posted here. The app will also read user-selected RSS feeds, and a Web radio feature allows you to listen to stations from all over the word in a wide range of genres. Finally, BMW Apps has a calendar function to keep busy BMW drivers on schedule and a Last Mile navigation feature to get drivers to their destination after they step out of the car.
Depending on whether you view your time in the car as a chance to largely disconnect from the outside world or a dreaded social media dead zone, BMW Apps is either the start of the carpocalypse or the beginning of a bold new era in car connectivity.
Which side are you on?
Who really needs all this crap? Silly me but doesn't ANYONE just make a damn car that's a sh!tload of fun to drive? Or was my '08 Mustang the last of those? No satnav,no stupid sync,no nothing but handling out the whazzo and a killer motor.
Please,please,please. Just give me a car with NONE of this expensive crap that'll break two blocks from the dealer.
EXPLORE NEW CARS
MORE ON MSN AUTOS
ABOUT EXHAUST NOTES
Cars are cool, and here at MSN Autos we love everything about them, but we also know they're more than simply speed and style: a car is an essential tool, a much-needed accessory to help you get through your day-to-day life. What you drive is also one of the most important investments you can make, so we'll help you navigate your way through the car buying and ownership experiences. We strive to be your daily destination for news, notes, tips and tricks from across the automotive world. So whether it's through original content from our world-class journalists or the latest buzz from the far corners of the Web, Exhaust Notes helps you make sense of your automotive world.
Have a story idea? Tip us off at firstname.lastname@example.org.