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BMW ConnectedDrive Review - the apps

David Ludlow
21 Mar 2013

A powerful and useful way to get more out of your car

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The rise of apps, thank primarily to Apple and its smartphones, such as the iPhone 5S, is something that BMW has clearly taken notice of, as its improved ConnectedDrive shows.

As the name suggests, ConnectedDrive is a BMW system that integrates in-car entertainment, navigation and information with apps that talk to the car via its built-in 3G SIM. The result, is a system that gives you more control over your car no matter where you are. Here we're looking at the remote apps, to see what they have to offer.

CONNECTEDDRIVE APPS

Available for iPhone and Android, My BMW Remote is the app that lets you access your car over the internet. To use it, you first have to register your car online through the online portal and enable remote services. This involves setting up a set of security questions, which are used if you have to phone BMW. However, the website is a little clunky and it took us a few attempts to get through the system and have the option to turn on Remote Services. Your choice of browser makes a difference with Google Chrome not supported and Internet Explorer giving the best result.

Fortunately, once you've configured your services, there's little reason to use the website and control moves to your smartphone. Our BMW X3 came with the majority of services enabled, although it depends on the model you buy as to what you can do.

VEHICLE POSITION

Losing your car is something that you don't need to worry about with Vehicle Position, which uses the car's built-in GPS to send its location to your app. Your car's then shown on Google Maps, with a walking route automatically plotted from your current location. It takes around a minute or so for the car to report its location back to you.

BMW ConnectedDrive Vehicle Position

Never lose your car again, thanks to Vehicle Position

For privacy reasons, if the car is more than 1.5km away from your current location, the app refuses to show you its location. BMW, however, can access the car's location should it be stolen. It's a brilliantly simple tool and perfect for those times when you park in a strange city and can't quite remember which road you left your car on.

BMW ConnectedDrive Privacy

If your car's out of range, the privacy settings kick in

CONTROL

While Vehicle position is a passive tool that shows you where your car is, My BMW Remote also has Control tools, which let you access features of your car remotely. Not all of these features are available on every model.

FLASH HEADLIGHTS / REMOTE HORN

While Vehicle Position will tell you where your car is, if you've left it in a car park, you may still have trouble finding it. That is, unless you have Light Flash. Using this feature you can, as it sounds, flash your car's headlights to alert you to its location.

As with all the remote services, this takes a few minutes to activate. Of all the services, this is the one that's least likely to be used day-to-day, as Vehicle Position is typically good enough on its own.

Your car may also report that it supports Remote Horn, but this feature has been disabled in the UK and there's no way to activate it. It would be better if BMW disabled the listing of this feature, so as to avoid confusion.

BMW ConnectedDrive Privacy

You can flash your car's headlights to make it easier to find

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