BMW Apps

The Request

BMWs are well known for being “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” Anticipating a need for agility in automotive environments to keep up with the rapid evolution of consumer smartphone features, BMW approached Mindtribe to architect a new software platform that would rapidly integrate smartphone innovations into the automotive user experience. BMW knew that the state of automotive support for consumer electronics devices was underwhelming. The development cycle times for cars and consumer electronics was so mismatched that, by the time a new car model was launched, its device support was already outdated–relegated to using obsolete means of device communication. This lead to poor user experiences around supported features such as music navigation and playback. It also meant that users couldn’t take advantage of the latest features that their devices had to offer. BMW asked Mindtribe to explore the current user experience and technology deficits and design a new architecture that would allow cars to communicate more fluidly with devices and keep up with their technology advances.

The Work

Focusing on Apple’s iOS first, Mindtribe conducted an exploration to see how the apps could “talk” to the car and created emulators to quickly test application concepts in the car itself. Leveraging rapid iterations, the team quickly put together versatile prototypes and led efforts to identify and test a compelling feature set for the final product. To deliver on BMW’s vision, Mindtribe and BMW worked closely with Apple to tailor the iOS protocol to deliver a better vehicle integration experience, later broadly employed by all major auto manufacturers. As the product direction solidified, Mindtribe created specifications detailing communication protocols and functionality to hand to Tier 1 automotive suppliers to deliver production hardware.

The Outcome

Mindtribe developed in-car iOS integration and shipped a series of apps that better integrated mobile technology with the car. This platform became a foundation for developing apps that talk to the car and paved the way to develop a broad range of apps used within the car. The team helped develop a distributed architecture that decouples BMW’s dependencies upon vendor components, allowing BMW to accommodate continued rapid change. This project, taken on by the BMW Technology Office without the oversight of the BMW corporate engineering team, was ultimately accepted and highly respected by BMW.