BMW is working on an Alexa skill for its new BMW Connected app, which will arrive later this year and let car owners do things like check their remaining fuel levels and lock their car doors via voice commands to their Echo speaker.
The new BMW Connected app arrived in the North American App Store in April, and will roll out in the UK. It’s able to connect to any car with “ConnectedDrive Services,” a feature introduced as a standard option by the car maker on all vehicles made from January 2016. BMW says that means there are about 400,000 vehicles on the road that can make use of the features in the UK alone. The updated app is an overhaul of a previous version that’s designed to be a more full-featured driving assistant, with trip management features including notifications indicating when you should leave to make it to your destination on time.
The revamped app sounds interesting, but the bigger story here is one that BMW buried near the bottom of the press release:
Later this year users will also be able to access BMW Connected via an Alexa skill for Amazon Echo, enabling them to get vehicle status like remaining range and execute remote commands like ‘door lock’, all through voice interaction.
Amazon’s Echo-based assistant adds new integrations every day, but the BMW app connection will let it extend further beyond the home. Ford has an early lead with Echo integration, letting people start their car and check range via Alexa.
Other more DIY solutions to add car control to Alexa’s list of skills exist, but BMW’s move here gives hope to drivers everywhere looking for closer connections between their vehicles and their smart home setups.
It’s still not Alexa in the car, which is something I’ve said previously I think would be a good fit. But it’s at least a relationship, and an acknowledgement that voice-based interaction is a useful model for controlling basic car functions.