BMW was among the first auto manufacturers to introduce integration with iPhones in 2011. Now, five years later, the company has at last announced at the New York International Auto Show that BMW Apps will integrate with Android devices. The first three apps to work with the iDrive system in the 2016 BMW 7 Series are all about the music: iHeartRadio, Pandora and Spotify.
So far, it’s just those apps and that one BMW model, but this opens the possibility of more BMWs and Minis having more Android apps in the future. Users need to download the BMW Connected app to stream music from their phones through iDrive via Bluetooth. The features that each service’s devotees love remain intact in iDrive: you can still give a thumb up or down to a song in Pandora; paid and free Spotify accounts can access playlists and browse; and your saved Favorites in iHeartRadio are there along with live radio stations across the country.
Apple keeps a tight lid on apps developed for its platform, and as one of the first manufacturers to integrate smart phones with its on-board entertainment system, BMW appreciated being able to easily evaluate iPhone apps for safety while driving. Android devices are part of a deliberately more open environment, but all those devices in the pockets of potential buyers can’t be ignored forever.
BMW obviously chose three popular apps to start with that would be very easy to safely operate as a driver. All apps available for use with the iDrive system, no matter the platform, must be “optimized for safe use” while driving (e.g. not requiring the driver to take his eyes off the road to scroll through a near-infinite list of songs), according to the press release. If it works with iDrive, BMW has certified that the app won’t take too much of your attention.