BMW connects MINI drivers to social networks

April 29, 2011 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
BMW has a reputation for taking the lead when it comes to integrating fashionable consumer electronics functions and gadgets into its vehicles. In particular for its MINI brand, BMW engineers made great efforts to attract zeitgeisty customers. Now it shifted into the next gear on the road to its technophile clientele: It offers access to social networks during the ride.

The MINI engineers extended the MINI Connected App universe, allowing drivers to access new connectivity and entertainment functions. No surprise that the hardware equipment required to run these apps and take advantage of these functions is an Apple iPhone - BMW already had demonstrated its preference for this brand at earlier opportunities. Nevertheless, integration of further smartphone brands is under way, a spokesperson said.

To use the MINI Connected App, owners need to specify their MINI with the MINI Visual Boost radio or MINI navigation system, plus the MINI Connected option. Functions integrated into the car via iPhone can be operated using the joystick, the steering wheel buttons or the on-board monitor. The latest version of the MINI Connected App allows the latest functions to be transferred into the car, the vehicle company says.

Among the functions unique in the MINI segment are access to the Google local search and Google Send to Car services and reception of user-definable RSS news feeds, the content of which are displayed on the on-board monitor and can be read out using the optional voice output function. Added to which MINI enables the use of web-based social networks in the car. MINI Connected customers can receive Facebook and Twitter posts inside the car, display them on the on-board monitor and have them read out using the optional MINI Connected voice output function. In the same way, preformatted text messages can be sent out directly from the car using either service - for the sake of safety, drivers unfortunately have to content themselves with a selection of some 15 most-used phrases, a BMW spokesperson explained.

Another new feature, the Dynamic Music function, contains a selection of exclusively composed music which can be played back through the audio system of the MINI. These pieces of music, composed in real time during the ride, adapt their rhythm and dynamic flow according to the driving style. The driver