Alexa

BMW Debuts Its Own Voice Assistant

BMW debuted its own digital personal assistant for its cars at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018. The news comes a few weeks after BMW officially launched its integration with Amazon’s Alexa. The automaker announced the partnership with Alexa last year, giving drivers access to Alexa skills and voice-activated services directly from the car’s infotainment system.

However, though Alexa allows functions unrelated to the driving experience, the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant is all about the user’s car.

“BMW’s Personal Assistant gets to know you over time with each of your voice commands and by using your car,” said BMW’s Senior Vice President of Digital Products and Services Dieter May. “It gets better and better every single day.”

Here’s how it works: Once the driver is in a compatible car, they’ll be able to make voice commands to control all of their vehicle’s standard features, such as navigation and climate control. They can even check the tire pressure, oil level and other engine settings, and learn more about their vehicle. As they use the assistant, it will get to know them better, remember their preferred settings and even suggest changes over time.

“For example, driving outside the city at night, the personal assistant could suggest [to] you the BMW High Beam Assist,” May explained.

A basic version of the assistant feature will be available with support for 23 languages and markets, starting March 2019. That same month, drivers in the U.S. and U.K., as well as in Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Brazil and Japan, will have access to additional features like weather search, point-of-interest search and access to music.

Starting in November, the assistant will be available right away and included in the first three years of ownership for those ordering a BMW 3 Series. For new X5, Z4 and 8 Series models, the BMW assistant support will be available as an over-the-air software upgrade, also starting in March 2019.

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