BMW research head avoids Apple Car question, says obstacles present to deeper partnership

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited March 2015
BMW's research and development head said on Wednesday that there are obstacles to collaborating with Apple beyond integrating iPhone support into vehicles, but did not completely rule out the possibility of the two companies building a car together.




BMW's Klaus Froehlich said in an interview with Reuters that BMW will not contemplate any deal that would force it to share core knowledge. But when he was asked whether his company might develop a car with Apple, the executive dodged the question.

"I will remain hypothetical on the topic," he said. "When it comes to the topic of technology, BMW tends to focus on its own strengths."

Froehlich did say that Apple and BMW have traits in common, such as a focus on "premium" branding, constant evolution, and trying to make products aesthetically attractive.

The German automaker is an official partner for CarPlay, Apple's iOS-based dashboard interface, and is also preparing to support the Apple Watch. Recently, rumors have claimed that the two companies might be developing a car together, but if so BMW has denied that recent talks were related to the effort.

A growing number of reports have indicated that Apple is developing en electric car, possibly with the goal of a 2020 launch date. AppleInsider recently uncovered what could be the development site for the project, located just minutes away from Apple's Cupertino headquarters. That facility has an assortment of auto-related renovations, and is believed to be operated by Apple under the guise of a shell company called SixtyEight Research.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33

    When this guy says something weasel-y like there are "obstacles beyond providing iPhone support..." it says to me BMW is hedging even on CarPlay.

     

    What a shame. My next car will most certainly not be a BMW.

  • Reply 2 of 33
    irelandireland Posts: 17,684member
    Quote:


    But did not completely rule out the possibility of the two companies building a car together.


     

    So.

  • Reply 3 of 33
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,746member

    I'm taking all that with a grain of salt.  It's such a touchy subject, and every word will be dissected and examined by the entire world so obviously, he's trying to avoid a very sensitive subject.



    I'm not sure why people harp about their electric car.  I saw it back in January 2014 at BMW Welt in Munich and I thought is was a really cool car and the materials going into it to keep the weight down was impressive.  I wouldn't mind having one.

  • Reply 4 of 33
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,615member
    I imagine it would be problematic for Apple to get a CarPlay buy-in from auto makers if they suspected Apple would be in direct competition down the road.
  • Reply 5 of 33
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,432member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

     

    I'm taking all that with a grain of salt.  It's such a touchy subject, and every word will be dissected and examined by the entire world so obviously, he's trying to avoid a very sensitive subject.


     

    Yeah, I wouldn't read too much into it. Clearly, he is trying to be as nebulous as possible.

     

    Also, Freohlich is a native German speaker. When one is speaking a foreign language, sometimes word choice is not a precise as as would be from a well-spoken native speaker. I have certainly had my share of bungled communication attempts trying to speak other languages.

     

    Heck, sometimes I pick the wrong words in English, my native tongue!

     

    :D 

  • Reply 6 of 33
    thrangthrang Posts: 782member

    As much as I want CarPlay to succeed, as a BMW owner I can tell you their iDrive system is very well thought out, and is not in need of being tossed, as opposed to many other car manufacturers' interfaces (I don't even like Mercedes COMAND very much)

     

    Does anyone know, for example, if CarPlay requires touch interface or will it support physical cursor/screen location selection with something like the iDrive controller? It is much easier and safer to to use an physical controller rather than try to touch the screen when driving...I've had both, and won't do touch again in a car.

  • Reply 7 of 33
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by thrang View Post

     

    As much as I want CarPlay to succeed, as a BMW owner I can tell you their iDrive system is very well thought out, and is not in need of being tossed, as opposed to many other car manufacturers' interfaces (I don't even like Mercedes COMAND very much)

     

    Does anyone know, for example, if CarPlay requires touch interface or will it support physical cursor/screen location selection with something like the iDrive controller? It is much easier and safer to to use an physical controller rather than try to touch the screen when driving...I've had both, and won't do touch again in a car.


    One, the BMW iDrive interface is quite primitive. It is, in fact, quite poorly thought out.

     

    Two, whether CarPlay will be based on touch or a physical controller or both is entirely up to the manufacturer. 

  • Reply 8 of 33
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    paxman wrote: »
    I imagine it would be problematic for Apple to get a CarPlay buy-in from auto makers if they suspected Apple would be in direct competition down the road.

    They won't get buy-in because car companies don't want their dash looking just like another car company's dash.
  • Reply 9 of 33
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     
    One, the BMW iDrive interface is quite primitive. It is, in fact, quite poorly thought out.

     

     


    You keep saying that but never give any specifics. 

     

    What don't you like about it? Seems to work fine for me.

  • Reply 10 of 33
    The entire automotive industry is in a fear of Apple. Wait, supplier see their chance to be part of the disruptive transformation.
  • Reply 11 of 33
    plovellplovell Posts: 804member

    BMW could start by fixing the disastrous audio support in existing cars.

     

    My 2012 5-series locks up the iPod Classic about once a week, requiring a hard restart. It's not an iPod problem (does the same with two separate iPod Classics, and less frequently with a Nano and an iPhone). BMW refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem but the discussion boards have thousands of complaints.

  • Reply 12 of 33
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    You keep saying that but never give any specifics. 

     

    What don't you like about it? Seems to work fine for me.


    Gosh, where do I begin. Let me point out a few of the obvious ones:

     

    1) The whole set up is based on scrolling and clicking on TEXT (not images) to get to sub levels or back to super levels. The text is often not user-friendly or in a font size that requires a lot of squinting and taking attention away from the road.

     

    2) Radio. Finding a station by scanning it is not easy at all -- there is no obvious scan function, for example (via the controller). Switching between AM and FM requires moving back a level, then clicking AM/FM/Satellite, then deciding whether one wants the presets (which are not easy to set up except for the limited number available on the dashboard) or scan a station. Even if you set up your presets, it's stored in the order in which you set it, so FM is mixed up with AM is mixed up with Satellite, and often, depending on where you are, you have no idea what pressing on a station number will bring up (since the same number is associated with different stations in different locations).

     

    3) Music. There is no way to scrub a song using a controller (you have to press and hold an arrow button on the dash); the display by the speedometer is limited (and functions differently depending on whether you're using an external device or the internal hard drive); the steering wheel sound functions are limited; there is no way to create playlists on the internal HD; the system does not recognize album names and songs at least a third of the time (even though they're available on CDDB); manually inputing album names is possible only in caps; it is not possible to manually input song names; the screen interface when a song is playing is different for different media -- internal HD (no album image) versus iPod (album image) versus iPhone (no album image); scrolling through playlists on an iPod using the controller is a pain; you cannot see song lists within a playlist if you're using an iPhone (so you have to make your choices on the iPhone rather than via the controller) but you can see songs in a playlist if you're using an iPod or the internal HD; there is no shuffle function; there is no ability to sort the music using user criteria....

     

    4) Voice commands: Absolutely the pits. It only understands set commands, not natural language. For example, I cannot say please call "123-4567." Instead, this is the routine: (i) "Call number" (ii) It responds "Please say the phone number"; (iii) "123-4567" (iv) It responds: "Next?" (v) "Call." If you get a number wrong, asking it to delete or cancel and accept a new number is a total pain. Ugh. It almost never plays me a song with the title I ask for, or calls a number of a contact I ask for from my contact list -- it gets it wrong 90% of the time. It is impossible to send a text message.

     

    5) Navigation.... 

     

    Oh what the heck. I don't wish to go on. It's too painful.

     

    Actually iDrive is not just primitive. It sucks.

     

    (On the bright side, it is far better than my Audi was, which was far better than my Lexus was.)

  • Reply 13 of 33
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by plovell View Post

     

    BMW could start by fixing the disastrous audio support in existing cars.

     

    My 2012 5-series locks up the iPod Classic about once a week, requiring a hard restart. It's not an iPod problem (does the same with two separate iPod Classics, and less frequently with a Nano and an iPhone). BMW refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem but the discussion boards have thousands of complaints.


    This happens to me too, all the time!

  • Reply 14 of 33

    Apple's not designing a car. They are working on CarPlay interface solutions, battery technology, and mapping improvements.

     

    I wish this car thing would die. Distracting.

  • Reply 15 of 33
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     
    [...message]

    Actually iDrive is not just primitive. It sucks.

     


    Thanks for taking the time. I can see why I have no complaints though. I never do any of that type of stuff.

     

    I don't really listen to music while driving as I feel it is distracting, but I did copy all my music onto the hard drive.

     

    I only have two radio station presets, PBS for news/talk and KOCI which is a local community station.

     

    I find calling is easy enough using the iDrive knob but I have also discovered that you can use Siri. Even with the iPhone in my pocket, I can press the button and Siri comes over the car audio.

     

    I have never used the BMW voice commands.

     

    I would never think of sending a text while driving. There is BMW office which I guess reads email, but I have not used that either.

     

    The navigation seemed fine the couple times I have used it.

  • Reply 16 of 33
    dugbugdugbug Posts: 283member
    One, the BMW iDrive interface is quite primitive. It is, in fact, quite poorly thought out.

    Two, whether CarPlay will be based on touch or a physical controller or both is entirely up to the manufacturer. 

    Bmw Idrive is nice and hardly primitive. I prefer it over any other system I've seen
  • Reply 17 of 33
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,980member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     

    When this guy says something weasel-y like there are "obstacles beyond providing iPhone support..." it says to me BMW is hedging even on CarPlay.

     

    What a shame. My next car will most certainly not be a BMW.


    Stretch that i3 for another 10 in rear seat leg room. I'm all in.

  • Reply 18 of 33
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,980member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     

    One, the BMW iDrive interface is quite primitive. It is, in fact, quite poorly thought out.

     

    Two, whether CarPlay will be based on touch or a physical controller or both is entirely up to the manufacturer. 


    Touch screen car entertainment system is not better than iDrive. That's why many car manufacturers copied iDrive style even though they may still have touch screen features. Name a few: Mercedes, Infinity, Acura, Lexus, Audi.

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    CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90

  • Reply 19 of 33
    mstone wrote: »
    Thanks for taking the time. I can see why I have no complaints though. I never do any of that type of stuff.

    I don't really listen to music while driving as I feel it is distracting, but I did copy all my music onto the hard drive.

    I only have two radio station presets, PBS for news/talk and KOCI which is a local community station.

    I find calling is easy enough using the iDrive knob but I have also discovered that you can use Siri. Even with the iPhone in my pocket, I can press the button and Siri comes over the car audio.

    I have never used the BMW voice commands.

    I would never think of sending a text while driving. There is BMW office which I guess reads email, but I have not used that either.

    The navigation seemed fine the couple times I have used it.

    So what exactly do you use iDrive for? (BMW Connect is a joke, btw).

    As an aside, your point about Siri is spot on, although it requires an inconvenient physical press of the home button (or you need to plug the phone in to the power outlet of the car). And considering that would be one small piece of the functionality of CarPlay, you just made a strong case for it!
  • Reply 20 of 33
    dugbug wrote: »
    I prefer it over any other system I've seen

    That sounds like you're damning with faint praise. :lol:
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