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BMW's iDrive: Connected iPhone Apps...  While Driving


 We've been connecting our iPods up to our car stereos for a few years now, and BMW plans a next-gen iDevice interface that may even let you control apps while you drive. 

Does that sound safe? At first thoughts, perhaps not, but you should check out the video of the system in action inside a Beamer before you make up your mind. The idea is to develop BMW's existing iDrive interface, which provides basic integration with iPods and iPhones, into a fully-capable user interface with hooks to grab all sorts of data from the media players over their iPod out connectors. 

The basic idea is transforming the in-dash entertainment system into a graphically-rich extension to your iPod's UI, complete with a safer method for interacting with the device. That is, it uses BMW's jogwheel-like central console controls, so you don't have to fiddle around with an iPod's clickwheel or iPhone's touchscreen as it nestles in your lap. In one fell swoop this makes BMW's job easier--it doesn't have to spend time and money building in a sophisticated entertainment system all of its own—and it makes your iPod-enhanced driving experience safer.

The ultimate plans apparently include building in enough control interactivity so you can use "all" the apps on an iPod, or of course an iPhone, potentially including Twitter, Suicide Girls and Tetris. Hmmm. Suddenly those safety concerns pop-up again ... unless you're relying on your co-driver to fiddle with the iDevice on your behalf. BMW is known for its rational, shall we say "solid," approach to safety, so we're probably making a lot of fuss about nothing. And since it's evident that future cars of all marques will have more and more sophisticated UIs) we won't worry about a spate of iPod-induced accidents from 2011 when the enhanced system becomes available. 

To keep up with this news follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.