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Starting Today, BMW is Rolling Out an Over-the-Air Software Update for 1.3 Million Vehicles

Starting Today, BMW is Rolling Out an Over-the-Air Software Update for 1.3 Million Vehicles

Author: Eric Walz   

Automaker BMW is rolling out a "Remote Software Upgrade" for over 1 million vehicles equipped with BMW's Operating System 7 starting today. The over-the-air software updates will begin with BMW vehicles in Germany. 

Building vehicles that can be updated with software was pioneered by electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla with its Model S. Now other automakers are following in the company's lead, including Ford Motor Co, General Motors and Mercedes Benz.

The BMW Remote Software Upgrade will update vehicles equipped with BMW Operating System 7 to Version 21-03. It will gradually cover more BMW Connected Drive markets worldwide. In total, more than 1.3 million BMW vehicles covering 20 different models will receive the OTA software updates.

However, BMW said the rollout of the current software may be delayed in individual markets due to pandemic restrictions that are still in place.

The OTA software update includes several new improvements. For one, BMW said it brought back the traditional search feature for navigation. Additional improvements in terms of ease of use via touch or using the BMW controller have been added. 

 BMW said that many customers wanted the familiar screen back to enter their destination, such as the country, place, street or house number. Based on customer feedback, BMW said the traditional search feature was redeveloped in BMW Maps and is now available to customers in addition to the single-box search. Algorithms are used to query databases and autofill the probable suggestions during input.

The BMW Maps navigation system was introduced in mid 2020. The system is cloud-based for the first time, making route calculation significantly faster and more dynamic by combining real-time information with predictive models, according to BMW. 

The cloud based BMW navigation system also contains additional context-related information to over 120 million points of interest (POI), such as ratings, opening hours and images. The POI database is continuously updated several times a week at short and regular intervals.

The improved version of BMW Maps is activated after installing the current BMW Remote Software Upgrade.

The latest BMW software update also activates Amazon Alexa in four new markets. With Alexa, BMW drivers can add items to shopping lists, check the news, play music or control compatible smart home devices from their vehicle. 

Amazon's Alexa has been available for BMW Operating System 7 vehicles in Germany, Austria, Great Britain, Spain and Italy. The latest upgrade adds four more countries to the list, including the U.S. and Canada, France and Brazil. 

OTA Software Updates for Driver Assist Features

Another improvement in BMW's latest vehicle software is that the Lane Departure Warning settings can now be saved for each driver. If a customer does not want to use the feature, it can be disabled in the settings instead of always being on by default. The preferences remain stored in the BMW ID driver profile. The function is only reactivated if the customer makes the change in the settings.

In addition, on some vehicle models with BMW Operating System 7 the Surround View on the control display was not positioned correctly, which the automaker also said it fixed with the latest software.

BMW vehicles have supported OTA software updates since 2018 with the launch of BMW Operating System 7 and BMW Remote Software Upgrade. Vehicles built after March 2021 already come with the latest software and do not require the update. 

Other improvements include correcting a display error when playing media from an Android smartphone that's paired via Bluetooth. After the upgrade, album cover art will be processed correctly whenever music tracks are changed.

Customers are notified about any available Remote Software Upgrades via the My BMW App or on the control display in the vehicle. In addition, the current software version can be viewed in the vehicle settings under Remote Software Upgrade.

The installation files are prepared in the vehicle in the background and the entire update process takes about 20 minutes.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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