Your BMW is about to get better… for free

Android Auto is one new feature coming to existing BMWs in Singapore via a wireless over-the-air (OTA) OS update

SINGAPORE — Some BMWs in Singapore are about to get better, for free. The German luxury car maker is rolling out over-the-air (OTA) software updates that will add new functions to existing cars, the way software updates to a mobile phone can unlock new features.

One major new feature is the addition of Android Auto, which will finally let Android phone users connect their handsets with their BMW, and through a wireless connection.

Drivers will be able to use Google Assistant or touch operation to access their apps without having to operate their smartphone directly (a legal no-no here).

Navigation guidance from Google Maps will show up in the car’s Info Display (the virtual instruments directly in front of the driver, pictured above) and the Head-up Display.

Not to be left out, Apple CarPlay users will now see turn-by-turn navigation instructions from Apple Maps and lane information in the Info Display and Head-up Display systems.

BMW says the update gives the Intelligent Personal Assistant (the “Hey, BMW!” concierge) a new, “more emotional” appearance — the latest version has an orange tinge, while the older version is only white.

To go with the visual redesign, the Intelligent Personal Assistant should also provide more proactive assistance by displaying possible voice commands and suggestions.

It now also understands new voice commands. You can now command your BMW to open a window, switch drive modes (between Comfort, Sport and Eco Pro) to give you tips on how to drive more efficiently.

Finally, the software update lets users configure or deactivate the Smart Opener function, which allows BMW drivers to open the boot lid without using hands.

Here’s a handy dandy guide to setting up Android Auto in a BMW

BMW is carrying out the Remote Software Upgrade (RSU) to cars in Singapore this month, as part of a worldwide update that involves 750,000 cars, the biggest in the company’s history.

A spokesperson for BMW Asia said the company is unable to comment on whether the RSU will work on parallel imported cars.

BMWs built in July this year leave the factory with the upgrade installed, but the RSU is a way for the company to add features to cars already on the road. Carmakers are eager to roll out such upgrades as user interfaces become a battleground in the fight for customers.

The latest update is for BMW OS 7, which BMW launched in 2018. The company says more than 20 models, or nearly its entire fleet, currently runs the software.

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Leow Julen
CarBuyer's managing editor is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 26 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.