LOS ANGELES--Earlier this year Mini said it would integrate Web radio and other smartphone apps with its cars, but gave little detail of how the system would work. At the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show, we had a Mini representative to give us a demo of its new ConnectedDrive system.
To answer our most immediate question, Mini developed its own iPhone app, so Web radio, Twitter, and the other functions it is offering actually reside on the phone, using its processor power and data connection. With the iPhone connected to the car's USB port, control of the app gets taken over by the Mini's onscreen interface.
Added to the list of audio sources on the Mini's LCD was Web radio, right along with satellite radio, AM, and FM. That Web radio entry only appears when a phone bearing the Mini ConnectedDrive app is hooked up. The Web radio feature of the Mini app lets you listen to thousands of radio stations that stream their audio to the Internet.
The Mini ConnectedDrive app also offers Google Local Search, Twitter, and Facebook. The interfaces for each of these functions have been designed by Mini to avoid on-road distraction. For example, the Twitter feature does not let you type in a Tweet. Instead, the car comes up with canned Tweets that you can send.
This Tweet function is kind of brilliant, as it uses data the car knows, such as location, current temperature, or how long you've been driving. It can take this data and punch it into Tweet templates, letting you easily update Twitter with your location or what a nice day it is while you're driving around. Mini suggests this feature will encourage social networking amongst Mini owners, making it possible for them to enjoy a drive together while keeping organized. For example, a lead car could Tweet direction changes. Users will also be able to create their own Tweet templates. … Read more