Watch BMW's iDrive 9 System At Work In The New X1

Technology / 5 Comments

The system offers lots of customization.

The next generation of BMW iDrive will be rolling out on the X1 and the next generation X2, and as a teaser, the company has released a series of videos showcasing what it can do.

To be clear, due to the new iDrive 9 system requiring hardware upgrades, the company won't be able to use over-the-air (OTA) updates to upgrade X1s that have already been delivered to customers. That means this will be frustrating news for those who purchased a new X1 shortly after it was introduced in the USA.

Nonetheless, it's interesting to see what the company has cooked up for the new system, especially with the amount of customization that will make drivers' lives a bit easier.


Running off Android Open Source software, the iDrive 9 system aims to have everything the driver would routinely use accessible on the main screen at all times. This makes it easier to change the heated seat temperature or the song choice without having to click through a myriad of systems while driving 80 mph down the freeway, for example.

Other than this, the name of the game for the new system seems to be customizability. The driver can set the screen's background to Navigation or a personalized mode at all times, with climate at the bottom and widgets to one side. The driver can scroll through a series of widgets that can give you car information, music options, and more.


Swiping down from the top pulls up the shortcuts you've personalized to your account. Shortcuts can be things like people to speed dial, a specific device you want to connect to for audio, or even an app you use often. In many ways, the system feels a lot closer to a smartphone or tablet setup. It feels modern and sleek and appears to be something that will stack up relatively well against Android Auto and Apple CarPlay at first glance.

But there is a catch, though. To access third-party apps, users must subscribe to BMW Digitial Premium Plan. New BMW models are sold with a free three-month trial, but after that, it's available through a monthly or annual fee.

It grants users access to more navigation options, entertainment, and, somewhat annoyingly, third-party apps. What this means for users of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is yet to be seen.


This is the real reason behind BMW and others like GM are working so hard to create their own infotainment systems: more money. More money through subscriptions, user data tracking, and less spent paying another company for the service.

It does give companies more control and allows them to tailor the systems to their cars. Still, it also creates ample opportunity to squeeze a few more bucks out of you consistently over the car's life.

As these are companies trying to make a profit, we understand why they're attempting this, but when it's 10 degrees outside with a negative 5-degree windchill, and your heated seat doesn't work because you forgot to pay the bill last month, we don't think there will be a ton of sympathy.


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