BMW Opens Pandora's Box

For customized music lovers out there who hate the burden of flipping through their iPods on the road (or, God forbid, turning the radio dial), BMW has quite the mellifluous news. The car company's North American outfit announced last Thursday that its BMW ConnectedDrive system is now fully compatible with the free Pandora internet radio iPhone app, the first third party app approved for the new BMW Apps feature (available for download here). For those unfamiliar, Pandora operates by predicting your music preferences based on songs you have previously selected or skipped. The scatter-plot of your musical tastes germinates from a single "seed" -- an input of an artist or track you dig. The mechanism, dubbed The Music Genome Project, zeroes in on your tastes through this feedback loop and continuously surfaces new music it thinks you might enjoy.

All 2011 and 2012 BMW vehicles equipped with the BMW Apps option can get Pandora internet live streaming through the iPhone app. BMW Apps runs a cool $250. What separates BMW Apps equipped vehicles from other cars that allow you to stream music from your cell phone (say, through an AUX input) is the driver-friendly display. The UI allows listeners to access existing stations, create new ones, approve or disapprove of tracks, and bookmark songs.

BMW Apps Pandora genres

Bimmers, along with most luxury makes, have featured iPod, iPhone, and satellite radio integration for some time now. In fact, Sirius XM Radio has extended its relationship with BMW at least through September 2011, but we wonder if Pandora as BMW's nouveau arrive could mark a departure from the strength of the the BMW-Sirius ties.

As with LPs and 8-tracks (and let's get real, even CDs at this point), radio could fade into obsolescence in the age of MP3 files and sexy live-feed Pandora stations that optimize your listening experience. We're not ones to sound the death knells of any one car music experience, but we're also realistic about the changing needs of listener accommodations as technology more accurately (and frighteningly) picks the ditties that make us jive.

The entrance of this first third-party app into the BMW Apps feature now opens a Pandora's Box of competing relationships among music providing services. Though competition allows drivers attractive variety, BMW may eventually have to reconcile its partnerships as the growth and demand for third-party apps grows to hellish proportions.

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Pandora® Now Available for Model Year 2011 BMW Vehicles

Woodcliff Lake, NJ – April 28, 2011 BMW of North America announced today that the free Pandora® internet radio iPhone app, the first third party app approved for the new BMW Apps feature, is now live and available for download at

Beginning today, all MY 2011 and 2012 BMW vehicles equipped with the BMW Apps option will be able to stream Pandora internet radio through the iPhone app. Once the iPhone is connected to the vehicle, the Pandora personalized radio functions are operated by the vehicle's existing controls. The Pandoraintegration, like the BMW Connected app features, is seamless.

Popular Pandorafeatures available to MY 2011 BMW drivers include the abilities easily access existing stations, create new stations, thumb-up or thumb-down tracks, and bookmark songs.

"The seamless integration of a highly desired service like Pandora demonstrates the enormous potential of the new BMW Apps," said Stephan Durach, Director of the BMW Group Technology Office. "We are pleased that we are able to partner with Pandora in order to now offer this function across the BMW product range in a way that is simple to access and safer to operate."

"We're excited that BMW is making Pandora available to customers across its full range of vehicles and that drivers will be able to tune into their personalized radio stations from the road," said Jessica Steel, Executive Vice President of Business Development for Pandora.

Customers can download the BMW Connected iPhone app, which is also available for free from the Apple App Store.

The flexible design of BMW Apps allows unprecedented integration of smartphone functions, taking the in-car integration of iPhone, entertainment and online functions to a whole new level. BMW Apps adopts the familiar BMW display and controls to ensure that all functions can be operated comfortably, simply, safely and intuitively while minimizing driver distraction.

The iPhone is linked to the car either via USB cable or through the center armrest with an available snap-in adapter. Once connected, the phone can be stored and all functions are operated using the vehicle's iDrive controller, steering wheel buttons and on-board monitor.

BMW Apps is available on model year 2012 and 2011 BMWs produced from March 2011 onwards for $250.00. The BMW Connected App and the Pandora app are now available for free at the Apple App Store.

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