BMW and Microsoft partner up for Google Now-like functions

BMW Connected North America app

BMW used Build 2016 to launch its new BMW Connected North America app for iOS users, which brings a Google Now personal assistant to its cars. The platform is powered by the Microsoft Azure-based Open Mobility Cloud.

The idea is to leverage your cloud-based data, like your calendar, messages, contacts, commute times, real-time traffic data and driving habits, to predict travel times and provide a reminder, at first.

If this sounds a lot like what Google Now does, you're right, because most of those features are available on Android phones, which can connect to your car via Android Auto. But, BMW plans to integrate smart home features, so it predicts when you'll be home and turn on smart lights or increase the thermostat temperature – features available with Google Now and Nest.

Positively, the BMW Connected North America app integrates with the ConnectedDrive app to let you access vehicle functions remotely, which is not something Google Now supports. However, unlike Google Now, which can easily transfer to any Android phone, BMW's cloud is only beneficial to its vehicles.

As an Android user, I don't find value in this feature and would rather have Android Auto integration, which BMW plans on supporting in future models. But for those that have an iPhone and a recent BMW that works with the previous Connected app, the new cloud-based features are a nice gesture that brings predictive driving features to existing cars.