BMW unveils new iDrive infotainment system with smartphone-like design

(This story was updated from its original version to reflect details about the system’s rollout for the North American market, including which models will be eligible for a remote software upgrade from iDrive 8 to 8.5)

BMW drew inspiration from the ever-changing world of smartphones to update its iDrive infotainment system. Known as BMW Operating System 8.5 (or iDrive 8.5 as we’ll call it here), the software gains a long list of features including a new home screen designed to be more straightforward to use and redesigned graphics.

The system, which remains Linux-based, receives a home screen with configurable graphics, meaning users can rearrange the various icons like on a smartphone or on a computer. The layout has also apparently been simplified. It now features a zero-layer design, so users can select the function that they’re after without having to dive into a sub-menu (hopefully that includes no longer digging into menus just to turn on the heated seats). There’s also a QuickSelect feature that reduces the number of taps and swipes needed to access a specific menu. We’re told that these updates should make iDrive faster and simpler to use while reducing driver distractions. We’re crossing our fingers that it does because as we’ve previously stated, iDrive 8 is not very good

BMW will gradually introduce the new iDrive system across the following models beginning this summer: 7 Series, iX, i4, X5, X6, X7 and XM. BMW also said that customers who have already purchased one of those cars will be eligible for a remote software upgrade from iDrive 8 to iDrive 8.5. 

Smaller cars positioned in what the firm refers to as the “compact class,” including the BMW 3 and 4 Series presumably, will need to wait until the Android-based iDrive 9 software comes out to receive an updated infotainment system. The 2024 BMW X1 will be the first to get it. 

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