After many years of speculation and rumours, Apple finally unveiled its first wearable device, officially called the Apple Watch.
Like many of the company’s other products, Apple fans predict that it will change the way that we interact with technology, much like how the iPad and iPhone did. Regardless of whether or not you think the Apple watch is a slam dunk, it has proven to be wildly popular, with millions of units pre-sold.
Like other smart watches on the market, the Apple Watch has the ability to run apps, and BMW being one of Apple’s automotive partners, has taken advantage of this functionality (and the device’s popularity) to further develop their vision of the (Internet) connected car for Apple Watch owners.
No longer is this just whimsical thinking reserved for concept cars. BMW has planted their flag in the world of mobile vehicle connectivity through their ConnectedDrive technology.
The very first vehicles to take advantage of the Apple Watch’s functionality are the electric cars from BMW’s i division.
Since electrical car owners tend to be considered early adopters, it makes sense for BMW to first offer the system to this generally more tech-savvy customer base.
The BMW i Remote phone app allows Apple Watch owners to remotely check and control functions of their BMW i3 or i8.
The Apple Watch has its very own version of the BMW i Remote app, which keeps users updated on the car’s status and much more.
While there is also a BMW i app available for the Samsung Gear S watch, the Apple Watch’s app has been developed a lot more comprehensively and thereby offers richer functionality.
Here’s how it works.
The Apple Watch acts as a clever extension to a linked iPhone with the BMW i app installed. Launching the BMW i Remote app on the Apple Watch brings up a start screen that gives the owner summarized information about the car’s charge status, available range, and time of the day.
Kudos to BMW for ensuring that the app’s graphics are consistent with the look and feel of the in-car iDrive infortainment system.
Scrolling further up on this start screen reveals a new menu through which users can check a whole host of other vehicle information including whether the car is locked, the windows are closed, or even if the moonroof is open. The doors can also be locked remotely. For security reasons, remote unlock functionality can only be done by calling BMW.
Lose your car in a parking lot? No problem. You can remotely flash the lights!
Vehicle maintenance alerts can also be checked at a glance, such as when the next maintenance appointment is due.
Pre-cooling or heating during a charge
One of the heaviest drains on an electric vehicle’s battery is its heating and cooling system. Most EVs allow you to program a timer to pre-heat or cool the car while it is still hooked up to the household electrical grid. BMW’s i app takes this one step further by allowing pre-conditioning on demand with just a tap.
A right swipe of the watch’s start screen reveals the Remote Services screen that allows owners to adjust the car’s climate control system. Here, they can heat or cool the interior of their BMW I car while is being charged. This way no energy needs to be drawn from the car’s high voltage battery to pre-condition the climate control system, helping to maximize the car’s electric driving range.
Location services and Intermodal route planning
Swipe the start screen to the left and Apple Watch owners will have access to the app’s location services display. This shows where the car is located on a map, and also offers up the intermodal route planning function.
One of the numerous innovations on board the BMW i3 is intermodal route planning. In slow traffic and congestion, for example, owners can incorporate other modes of transport into the route planning process alongside the user’s own car. This may help them reach their destination more efficiently.
In a nutshell, this means that public transit can also be incorporated as part of the route guidance, extending the navigation system’s instructions from the parked car to the user’s final destination. The app can also guide the owner back to the parking space if required.
Although the intermodal functionality is still in its infancy in Canada, these functions promise to significantly enhance mobility, especially in urban areas.
With their embedded SIM cards, the BMW i3 and i8 are optimized for connectivity, while the BMW i Remote app creates a close link between the car, driver and outside world.
Many of us already view digital services as an integral part of our everyday lives, and smart watches are set to give this trend even greater momentum. They also make using electric mobility a faster and more direct experience.