As of mid-2018, new models from BMW and Mini will offer drivers a familiar personal assistant from Amazon. We're speaking of course about Alexa, the voice-controlled service from the sales giant that has entered households around the world. The BMW-Amazon relationship actually began approximately a year ago with the BMW Connected skill that was available for the service. This new arrangement, however, fully integrates Alexa into BMW and Mini vehicles, which means driver and passengers will have access to literally tens of thousands of skills currently available to Alexa users.
"By making this step and integrating Alexa into our models from 2018, BMW and MINI will form a more intrinsic part of our customers' digital lifestyles," said Dieter May, senior vice president of digital services and business models at the BMW Group. "Voice control first featured in BMW Group cars many years ago, and we are now enhancing its functionality by adding a digital ecosystem, which will open up all sorts of new possibilities that customers can access quickly, easily, and safely from their car."
Voice control certainly isn't anything new, so what makes Alexa different? For starters, it doesn't require a smart phone or any other interfaced device to use; all BMW and Mini models have built-in SIM cards to access networks. Features used at home can be accessed in the car through voice commands, with results spoken or displayed on the infotainment screen. In addition, previous BMW Connected skill features such as checking vehicle status or controlling other remote vehicle functions from home are still available. Yes, that also means you can control functions at home from your car, provided you have your house hooked up to Alexa.
BMW says Alexa will be available for all models in the U.S., U.K., and Germany, starting midway through 2018. There's no word on the costs for the feature.