If you’re blessed with a late model BMW and have a smartphone or Apple Watch, the two companies have teamed up to create BMW Connected which utilizes the Azure cloud to send you traffic notifications and as well as other helpful information to get you on your way.
BMW and Microsoft announcement
BMW Connected was unveiled today at Microsoft’s annual developers conference Build. For now, you’ll need to own a BMW from 2014 or newer, but owners of models dating back to 2011 will have the service in the future according to the announcement.
“This is all about safety and convenience through an app that learns all about who you are and what you do,” says Randy Cavaiani, director of partner and product marketing for BMW. “The cloud is critical to something like this, where in order to scale the service you need tremendous computing capacity to deal with adding users and their data as well as growing partner services.”
With the announcement, BMW has made it quite clear that they won’t be sitting idly by while Apple’s Car Play and Google’s Android Auto take over the market. That said, the company has yet to announce it’s system being used by any other automaker.
What we saw at the demo
Using the BMW 750iL, Cavaiani showed those in attendance that the car now greets the driver my name while starting the car and navigation system based on calendar information. If traffic is bad, the app will notify the driver that they must leave early and also offers drivers the ability to alert their contacts when they will be arriving with pre-written text messages.
When Yelp was brought up on a smartphone that also had the BMW Connected app, a restaurant was selected and directions in Yelp were requested, once received they were taken by the BMW app which then sent the information to the car.
In addition to those features, BMW spoke to the “last mile” features that suggest walking options as well as public transportation options once the car has been parked.
“That last mile option is very big in Europe where people use many modes of transportation, and in time we think it will prove useful here as well,” says Cavaiani.
This marks just another day for Microsoft in the automotive sector as Azure is already powering connected car offerings in Fords and Toyotos with Volvo and Nissan set to use the Azure for their connected cars.
Microsoft has shown a flexibility since its new CEO took over the reins of the company just over two years ago. It is by no means a one-trick pony but a company that is moving in a number of directions at the same time. Microsoft has shown an unwillingness to cede control of the cloud to Google, Amazon, IBM and others while also developing its other product lines like the Surface line of tablets to remain more than simply relevant.