In the current issue of AutoVolt, we reported that the new Apple Watch will be the next big thing in the technology world, not for its ability to tell the time or be a miniature and convenient system for checking schedules and other such items you might have usually used your mobile phone for. No, instead, we were referring to its use as a watch that could have the ability to connect with your car. It makes sense, in the same way as it made sense to create apps that worked on a mobile phone. Users of the Apple Watch who happen to be drivers of BMW cars with the BMW ConnectedDrive facility will be pleased to hear that BMW have already developed a new app capable of controlling many functions of their car from the Apple Watch.
It is the first of [likely] many apps that will come to light to aid connectivity between the Watch and cars – particularly EVs and tech-happy hybrids.
Apple Watch uses the BMW i Remote app – which can be downloaded free from the Apple iTunes Store – to keep users updated on the car’s current battery status, for example, and alert them when the high-voltage unit is fully charged. In addition, Apple Watch can continue the navigation instructions from the BMW i3 to the user’s final destination after the car has been parked as well as guiding them back to the car if required. And it allows the interior temperature to be pre-conditioned.
The new smartwatch features an innovative glance screen for applications which groups together the most important information provided by the app so that it can be viewed at a single glance. As well as the car’s battery charge, the available range and the timing of updates, the glance screen also shows BMW i Remote app users whether the car doors are locked.
Apple Watch acts as a clever extension of a linked Apple iPhone. It can connect the driver with their BMW i3 or BMW i8 at any time – remotely, if required – and allows users to check or control important functions directly via BMW i Remote app, without having to take their smartphone out of their pocket, unlock a screen or enter a code. Many of us already view digital services as an integral part of our everyday lives, and BMW view smartwatches as being set to give this trend even greater momentum.
Apple Watch is controlled by pressing or swiping its touch-sensitive surface, as has become second nature with smartphones and tablets. An upward swipe of the glance screen reveals the BMW i Remote app start screen – the central navigation point of the app´s Apple Watch version. Here, users can access the app’s other menus. On the home screen are the car’s charge status and available range, as well as the time of day. Scrolling further up the start screen reveals a new menu through which users can check a host of other vehicle information, such as whether the doors are locked, the sunroof is still open or the boot is closed. Service alerts are also flashed up – e.g. if a brake fluid change or service is due. This list can be hidden by swiping the screen or turning the Digital Crown, Apple Watch’s central control tool.
A right swipe of the start screen takes users to the BMW i Remote app’s Remote Services, allowing them to adjust the car’s climate control system, for example. Here, users can cool or heat the interior of their BMW i car while it is being charged from the power supply. That way no energy needs to be drawn from the high-voltage battery to pre-condition the climate control system, thus helping to maximise the car’s electric range. Another swipe to the right leads to the remote control feature for the horn, which can be activated to help owners find their BMW i3 or BMW i8 easily, even in large car parks – and if someone else has parked the car. A touch of the display is all that is required to activate the relevant functions.
One of the numerous innovations on board the BMW i3, the first premium electric car to be launched, is intermodal route planning. In slow traffic and congestion, for example, this ingenious function incorporates other modes of transport into the route planning process alongside the user’s own car if this will help them reach their destination more efficiently. This type of route guidance function is unique among carmakers and also benefits from location services when using Apple Watch. These extend the navigation system’s instructions from the parked car to the user’s final destination and also guide them back to the parking space if required. Apple Watch owners can access these location services with a left swipe on the start screen. Together, these functions significantly enhance mobility, especially in urban areas.