BMW iDrive 9 – more touch-sensitive controls in favour of physical ones – right move?

BMW has released more details of its new iDrive 9 which will be first introduced in the all-new third-generation BMW X1 and the second-generation 2 Series Active Tourer through the BMW Curved Display. The new iDrive 9 will feature an Android Open Source software for faster and seamless operation, ditching the old Linux-based operating system. 

The iDrive 9 features a new QuickSelect concept inspired by smartphones, that follow a ‘zero-layer’ principle that places all relevant functions and information on a single level. This allows for desired functions to be selected without having to go through the submenus.

With more and more car manufacturers removing physical controls in favour of touch-senstive controls, the iDrive 9 should be no different as BMW said the QuickSelect allows entertainment, contact lists, vehicle settings and other options to be selected, all by touch. Once the functions have been chosen, a quick tap on the home icon at the lower edge of the display is all it takes to return to the home screen.

Is removing all if not most physical controls, like what Volkswagen did the right way forward? It remains to be seen. Even Volkswagen realised it made a mistake and reverted against it. What was quite intriguing in BMW’s press release is that the system can automatically adjust what it displays based on user habits to display the right information in the right place, at the right time. 

Not all new models will be receiving the new iDrive 9 according to BMW as those equipped with iDrive 8 (released in 2020) will be updated to iDrive 8.5. The iDrive 8.5 which will be on models such as the BMW iX, i4, X5, X6, X7 and the BMW XM will continue to be powered by a Linux-based system.

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