Next-gen BMW voice assistant to be built on Amazon Alexa

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BMW will launch its first vehicles with a new-generation voice assistant based on Amazon Alexa within the next two years.

The BMW voice assistant will “work in cooperation” with Alexa, and allow customers to control music, remotely manage their smart home, add items to a shopping list, or check the weather, as examples.

Customers will apparently be able to choose to use either the BMW voice assistant and Alexa individually, or have both assistants work alongside each other.

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“The Alexa technology will enable an even more natural dialogue between driver and vehicle, so drivers can stay focused on the road,” said BMW Group senior vice-president connected company and development technical operations.

Stephen Durach, BMW Group (left) and Dave Limp, Amazon (right) Credit: CarExpert

“This will bring the digital experience to an entirely new level.”

“This cooperation with BMW is a great example of what Alexa Custom Assistant was designed for — to make it faster and easier for companies to develop custom intelligent assistants for virtually any device, without the cost and complexity of building from the ground up,” said Amazon senior vice-president of devices and services Dave Limp.

The BMW voice assistant was first introduced in 2018 and according to the German carmaker has become an “increasingly important part of BMW iDrive”.

BMW isn’t the first carmaker to introduce an Amazon Alexa-based voice assistant, with Jaguar launching it in the electric I-Pace in Australia earlier in 2022.

Jaguar I-Pace Credit: CarExpert

This voice assistant eventually filtered out to all Jaguar and Land Rover models fitted with the Pivi Pro infotainment system via an over-the-air (OTA) update.

Ford allows owners to access the Amazon assistant through an app in its Sync 4 infotainment system, while Audi, BMW and Lexus offer inbuilt Alexa in some parts of the world.

Amazon also offers the Echo Auto, which plugs into your car and performs the same function.

In addition to the impending Amazon Alexa integration, BMW confirmed in June that it’s expanding its current BMW Operating System 8 and integrating Android Auto into certain model lines from March 2023.

BMW i4 Credit: CarExpert

It’s still unclear what BMW models will receive this Google-owned infotainment operating system.

All other BMW models will retain the current Linux-based infotainment operating system for now, and for a period of time the German carmaker will offer both systems.

BMW said the new Android Automotive OS will “enable the infotainment system to be individually configured”. It will also bring “tailored, individual and expanded digital features and options”.

BMW iX Credit: CarExpert

It remains to be seen what new infotainment features and options these BMW models will gain with Android Automotive.

It’s also unclear if the new operating system will look any different from the existing Linux-based operating system as BMW still hasn’t released any photos yet.

This Google-owned technology was first used in the Polestar 2 and has since populated to vehicles such as the Volvo XC40 Recharge, GMC Hummer EV and Renault Megane E-Tech Electric.

MORE: BMW debuting Android Automotive infotainment in 2023MORE: The future of connected cars: Testing the Alexa connected carMORE: Amazon Echo Auto: Extending the smart home to your car

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