Like it's iPhone counterpart, the app allows drivers to remotely lock and unlock their vehicle, determine its location, access climate control functions and flash the lights or honk the horn to find their ride in a crowded lot. Additionally, Google Local Search allows you to send points of interest to the car without having to enter it through the navigation system, and when the ActiveE arrives early next year, charge status will also be included. But don't look for it in the Android Market just yet.
BMW will be releasing the app later this year, and when it rolls out for Android, it will include real-time traffic information, something that will also be available for the updated iPhone app.
So what took BMW so long to adopt Android, the world's fastest growing mobile OS? In the release after the jump, BMW – like nearly every app developer on the planet – blames the massive amount of fragmentation of both screen sizes and Android versions out in the world, meaning testing and development took much longer than for the iPhone version.
The BMW Group doesn't only offer solutions for the integration of Apple smartphones; in the future, smartphones based on the Android operating system should also be able to use the BMW and MINI apps. The first step along this road is the Android version of the My BMW Remote app, which controls the same remote functions as its iPhone counterpart. In addition to opening and closing the car, the driver can also use the Climate Control function to access the car's climate control system and activate its auxiliary ventilation or heating. Added to which, the driver can use the Flash Light or Horn Blow functions to gain a visible or audible reminder of their car's location (not available in all markets). If the car is out of sight and earshot, it can still be located by the Vehicle Finder function within a radius of up to 1,500 metres. A map then guides the driver to the car. Google Local Search rounds off the portfolio of functions. Here, customers can use the Google search function or the smartphone's address book to send relevant Points of Interest (POIs) to the car's navigation system. The e-mobility-specific remote functions of the BMW ActiveE, such as battery charging from outside the car, will also be available for Android phones, as will the upgrade for the My BMW Remote app – slated for introduction in autumn 2011 – which adds the Real-Time Traffic Information (RTTI) function.
Android is currently the fastest-growing software platform for smartphones and tablets. As open-source software, it can be adapted to and used on a wide range of devices from different manufacturers. It is here that the challenge lies for the BMW Group developers. Different resolutions, not to mention the technical requirements and particular characteristics of the different devices, have to be taken into account in the development process. And that means the testing phase for Android phones is far more extensive and time-consuming than for apps for the iPhone, which only comes in two variants. Adapting the graphics as required is also a complex business. Android places different demands on the user interface and operating architecture. To this end, the user interface has to be adapted to the look and feel of Android phones, without making too many changes to the familiar and well thought-out appearance of the app. Here, the design of the Android user interface has already incorporated feedback from existing My BMW Remote app users and allows it to integrate new functions even more easily.