Here's what's in store starting next year into the future.
BMW Operating System 8, also known as iDrive 8, is among the best infotainment suites available today. The system debuted last year on the BMW iX and BMW i4, and has since expanded to other models like the facelifted 3 Series and all-new X1 crossover. Though it's a fairly new system, BMW will update iDrive 8 with a significant overhaul as soon as next year. Starting in March 2023, iDrive 8 will integrate Android Automotive OS alongside the existing Linux-based operating system.
As a reminder, Android Automotive is different than Android Auto, a phone mirroring software similar to Apple CarPlay. Android Automotive currently powers the Polestar 2 and Volvo XC40, plus several new vehicles from General Motors. This system bundles useful features such as Google Assistant with relevant data from the vehicle, including battery range.
"We are integrating the best aspects of all worlds, that could be our own in-house developments, Open Source or commercial software products, depending on what the specific solution looks like. We make sure our customers always enjoy a unique, customized digital experience in their vehicle," says Stephan Durach, Senior Vice-President Connected Company and Development Technical Operations at the BMW Group.
It's currently unclear which BMW models will get the new Android-based OS and which will keep the Linux system. BMW hasn't gone into any further detail on the matter, saying only that the expanded operating system can be used in different vehicle series.
Having driven several vehicles with Android Automotive-based infotainment, like the Polestar 2 and GMC Hummer EV Pickup, we are excited to see how the BMW Group integrates this technology into its dashboards. Though the press release only mentions BMW Operating System 8, it leaves the door open for other BMW Group vehicles, including Mini and Rolls-Royce, to get the Android OS.
Even the vehicles that stick with the older iDrive 8 will still receive over-the-air updates at regular intervals via the BMW Remote Software Upgrade program. After sampling the current system in the i4 and iX, it's certainly no hardship to miss out on next year's Android update.