BMW unveils new iDrive infotainment system with smartphone-like design

BMW drew inspiration from the ever-changing world of smartphones to update its iDrive infotainment system. Known as version 8.5, the software gains a long list of features including a new home screen designed to be more straightforward to use and redesigned graphics.

The E65-generation 7 Series was unveiled in 2001 inaugurated the first version of iDrive. Much has changed since, but the software’s main purpose remains the same: it’s essentially the point of contact between the driver and the car’s various functions, and it gives designers the freedom to drastically reduce the number of buttons on the dashboard. Fast-forward to 2023 and iDrive 8.5 (which remains Linux-based) receives a home screen with configurable graphics, meaning users can rearrange the various icons like on a smartphone or on a computer.

Software engineers simplified the iDrive system’s layout. It now features a zero-layer design, so users can select the function that they’re after without having to dive into a sub-menu. There’s also a QuickSelect feature that reduces the number of taps and swipes needed to access a specific menu. We’re told that these updates should make iDrive faster and simpler to use while reducing driver distractions.

BMW will gradually introduce the new iDrive system across its bigger models in the coming months. Smaller cars positioned in what the firm refers to as the “compact class” (so the X1 and the 3 Series, among other nameplates) will need to wait until the Android-based iDrive 9 software comes out to receive an updated infotainment system. An unverified report claims we’ll see the system before the end of 2023.

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