In-Car Tech

BMW in-car tech receives five big upgrades in July and here's how to get them

BMW is upgrading its infotainment system with a big boost for BMW Map functionality, among other features.

Photo courtesy of BMW

This month, BMW will release a comprehensive vehicle software update with new and improved features. Any BMW leaving the plant from July with Operating System 7 will already have the updated roster.

Here's what you can expect from the upgrade.

BMW Maps

2021 BMW 5 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

The experience of using BMW Maps will be improved. BMW says that it will be faster, more intuitive, and more accurate. Destinations can be entered more easily and new cloud-based route calculation improves performance.

BMW Maps will now use real-time traffic information in addition to historical and extrapolated data to optimize routing. That data has been collected from over 14 million BMW vehicles. The automaker says that the system, "avoids unnecessary detours through residential areas."

When searching for a destination, BMW Maps lists the search results based on the vehicle's position. The application will now provide contextual information for points of interest including ratings, business hours, and images.

Connected Parking functionality also supports the search for parking spaces with additional services.

Connected Charging

2021 BMW 5 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW's Connected Charging services are being expanded as part of the update. Customers can now view details of past charging processes in the app and define specific time windows in which the car should be charged. The app can now also send push notifications directly to the customer's smartphone when charging events occur.

Public charging information has been expanded as well, now offering more detailed information on charging stations including opening hours, providers, or authentication options. Users can also see points of interest nearby like caf├ęs or restaurants.

All-electric vehicles now push their projected range to the app, which users can view in the form of a blue circle on the map overview.

If their BMW senses that a driver needs a break, the app will automatically suggest stopover points that include charging destinations.

BMW Digital Key

2021 BMW 5 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

On the heels of an announcement at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, BMW has confirmed that the innovation is part of the upgrade, not just coming to new products. Click here for more information about this specific feature.

Wireless Android Auto

2021 BMW 5 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

Many new luxury vehicles are going wireless so it's no surprise that BMW is following the trend - something they announced in December. As part of the new update, Android Auto will become wireless in vehicles already equipped with Android Auto.

Users can access Google Assistant and interact with their smartphone with their voice and see the results on BMW's infotainment screen.

Additionally, the capability allows for adoption of Google Maps turn-by-turn guidance that is displayed on the vehicle's instrument cluster and head up display.

BMW Personal Assistant

2021 BMW 5 Series

Photo courtesy of BMW

The BMW Personal Assistant system is getting a new design. It has been enabled with intelligent functionality as well. This means that the system can now do things like show a graphic on the screen that turns toward the person talking (driver or passenger).

BMW says that the update allows the Personal Assistant to provide "proactive assistance with possible voice commands to improve natural interaction."

Here's how to get the update

Certain BMW vehicles built before July are capable of over-the-air updates. BMW has been enabling remote software upgrades since 2018.

For those vehicles, the update will be pushed to the cars starting in the third quarter of the year. The automaker says that around 20 minutes of installation time is required.

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Toyota is mobilizing, putting its money where its mouth is to help Texas affected by severe winter weather.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Winter Storm Uri impacted nearly every single one of Texas's 254 counties. North Texas-based Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) has pledged $1 million in relief for those affected by the storm. The aid is slated to serve both Toyota and Lexus customers and a variety of Texas-based non-profit organizations.

Over 60 Texas counties were part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) recent Texas Severe Winter Storms (DR-4586-TX). It is currently categorized as an active disaster.

"We take our role as community leaders seriously, so when winter storms affected millions right in our back yard, our top priority became helping Texas get back on its feet after this ordeal," said Sean Suggs, group vice president of Social Innovation, TMNA. "Texans have supported our company in myriad ways, and we want to help our neighbors emerge from this storm stronger than ever."

The $1 million relief effort includes:

North Texas/DFW Metroplex

  • United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, in support of North Texas Cares and West Dallas nonprofits to quickly distribute funds to grassroots organizations: $450,000
  • North Texas Food Bank: $100,000
  • The Family Place and Genesis Women's Shelter to fund hotel rooms, food, and transportation for their clients: $30,000
  • Toyota employees will be able to support the needs of four North Texas community partners significantly impacted by the storms by purchasing items from their Amazon Wish Lists.

San Antonio

  • SAWS Community Pipe Repair Fund, through the San Antonio Area Foundation to assist individuals and families stay in their homes safely with funds for plumbing repairs: $100,000
  • Let's Help SA Fund to provide food, water and shelter: $200,000

Houston

  • United Way of Greater Houston to support the Greater Houston 2021 Winter Storm Relief Fund that supports local home repairs: $50,000
  • Houston Food Bank: $50,000
  • CrowdSource Rescue to provide food, water and fuel: $20,000

Additionally, Toyota will match up to $10,000 in individual employee contributions to nonprofit organizations recovering from the storm.

Toyota and Lexus Financial Services customers who are looking for loan and lease payment relief, and were impacted by the storm, may be able to receive assistance under a new Toyota program that has a variety of options for clients.

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Vonlane typically runs luxury bus service to multiple high-priority locations in Texas and beyond.

Photo courtesy of Vonlane

Texas-based luxury bus company Vonlane is back on the road following the winter storm, offering limited routes to travelers among Houston, Dallas, and Austin.

"Upon conducting road tests around the state, we are confident that we can now deliver our normal exceptional travel experience," the Dallas-based company said in a February 19 email to customers.

A quick check of the schedule online shows it's possible to book one-way and roundtrip travel from the Houston Downtown Hyatt Regency to Dallas Doubletree at Love Field or the Austin Hyatt Regency, beginning Friday, February 19.

Rates are $105 each way.

Routes to and from Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City are not yet available.

Vonlane buses are operating with a number of COVID-19 protocols, including blocked seats for social distancing. Face masks and temperature checks are required.

Vonlane launched its high-end bus service in 2014 to cater to business travelers. Each bus, which holds fewer than two dozen passengers, features amenities like WiFi, satellite TV and radio, snack and drink service, and leather seats.

Reservations can be booked online, and may be canceled and fully refunded up to 24 hours before departure.


The original version of this story can be found on AutomotiveMap's sister site, CultureMap.

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