BMW's vision for connected cars includes Cortana in your dash

BMW is at CES showing off a range of tech it envisions as part of a connected car experience. While the entire vision is a neat look into where BMW expects the near-future of connected, automated cars to go, one particular inclusion will stick out to Microsoft fans: Cortana.

AS shown off as part of CES 2017 demo, BMW sees Cortana living in the car's dash to offer the same voice-activated assistance with which you're already familiar. From BMW (via Neowin):

The system being presented at CES 2017 is the in-car application of Microsoft's Cortana. This means that the voice-controlled capabilities already offered by Microsoft Cortana on a home PC could or smartphone in future also be available on board a BMW. For example, BMW Connected can provide a reminder en-route of an upcoming appointment for which no location has yet been fixed. And Cortana can be used to make a suitable restaurant recommendation and reserve a table.

Microsoft has been nudging ever-closer to the car industry as of late, and BMW's experimentation with Cortana in the car is just the latest highlight. Nissan also recently teased a Cortana-related announcement for CES that we should be hearing more about soon, and Volvo has also said it is looking into bringing Cortana on the road in its cars.

This follows what seems to be an industry trend in making AI and digital assistants more ubiquitous across the board. Apart from cars, Microsoft has also been busy readying Cortana to branch out to more third-party hardware thanks to a dedicated Cortana Devices SDK.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • Yes finally some awesome news.
  • I've actually been to Lemongrass Thai Restaurant.  Awesome food there.
  • As long as they can improve her responsiveness. On Xbox One she's horrifically slow, and on every single PC I've tried, she's anywhere from "okay, tolerable" to "where the **** is Cortana and why isn't she listening? Bathroom break?"
  • She works fine on my phone 640xl
  • She's alright on phones, but still not fast enough. I have 3 640's (same hardware as the XL, just smaller) and my wife has a 950XL. She's too slow on ALL of them, though I do agree she's better on phones than PC's. On PC's she ranges from slow to nonexistent. I've yet to see a single PC where she's instantly responsive on a consistent basis.
  • I also tend to have an issue where when I wake her up using "Hey Cortana", she'll listen but not comprehend. Meaning, what I say will be understood, but she'll tell me she can't connect. But if I do it again it'll be fine.
  • This paired with Nvidias power would be freaking amazing.
  • but will it count the number of accidents made by the wife!
  • If this is real news then Microsoft should step up their roadmap and start supporting mire languages. The current list is not enough and dysfunctional in the global arena. And BMW is a global brand.
  • Didn't they buy here maps?
  • That has nothing to do with his comment :p they're saying that MS need to start supporting more global languages right now, Cortana is only 100% functional in the US, as it has been for years. Other countries like UK have access to Cortana, but lack a lot of important much missed features on both phone and PC, and some countries don't even have access to Cortana. It's all to do with the languages supported, and if they plan to cooperate with a global vehicle company (Which is great!), they need to start putting the missing pieces together and start getting more languages on board. Heck, it took 1 whole extra year just for them to get it to the UK after US. And despite the very slight accent change and a few word spelling differences (Colour/Color etc), it's an extremely similar "Language"
  • Wonder if they're gonna update preexisting operating system with Cortana integration, or am I gonna have to buy a new BMW to get the experience
  • Probably just upgrade the module for like $10,000 ;)
  • Haha don't scare me
  • If this is anything like current vehicles, it will be on the new cars from the point of release going forward. "Infotainment" support is about a year before they move on to the new year's models. At least in my personal experience.
  • My BMW 1series 2011  has gotten a new update after 3 years, actually fixing some things like performance of USBDrive-Reading. Hope it's the same with my new Mini Clubman, to bring Cortana (and Continuum) to it.
  • I really wish this were true!
  • Excellent.!!! Now let's get Mercedes on board and Audi... One can hope :)
  • Why limit it to just luxury cars?
  • To me it needs to start there, to make the system aspirational, by all means I'd love it in Kia, Hyundai, Ford Etc. But I feel if it started there the high end would not be following, the tech of today in low to mid end cars mostly started in high end cars first, eg. ESP, anti lock brakes, parking sensors, reversing cameras, belt tensioner, indicators on mirrors.... The list goes on :)
  • Actually, most new tech is implemented on higher end cars first before they trickle down.  For instance, BMW was one of the first to implement the "surround view" camera function.  Now years later, Nissan and Toyota have it in their modest SUVs.
  • Yiou don't want her to just get into anybody's car now, do you?  A little decorum.
  • And this is regard to what ??
  • Good to see Cortana expanding in what she can do, I still feel like she's stopped progressing and could really do with being given new abilities and ways to help. Good sign.
  • Oooh, using some kind of car HUD projector, it should project a full 3D model of Cortana on your dashboard/windshield while she is active!
  • Down a dark and dangerous path, will that take us.
  • And suddenly people talking on mobiles while driving won't be much of an issue... Because there'll be a new threat on the road... Cars with vision obstructed features like a 3D Cortana model in front of the driver :p
  • If true, might buy a BMW again. My last one used iPhone app to activate functions, and send address to car gps etc.
  • BMW had prior relationships with Microsoft.  Microsoft had Auto version of Windows CE.  It was used in the original version of iDrive.  While the original iDrive was a complicated mess, the Micorsoft Windows CE for Auto worked great for its time.  The original Ford Sync used Microsoft OS but Ford made a mess of that all on their own before they went with a different solution. Would be great if BMW had a closer relationship with Microsoft technology again as well as others in the auto industry.  Rather have that than the lag luster Android Car options I have seen.
  • Yep, remember doing ctrl-alt-del using the volume button and 2 eject buttons on the console when say the Bluetooth connection would get hosed?
  • Well I for one am not excited by this at all. My wife just got a BMW X5 Hybrid and they refuse to bring out an app for Win10 for BMW Connected. They are in love with iOS and Android. I've hassled them for almost a year now and they best I've got out of them is to buy an iOS device!!! I'm not holding by breath, but happy to be proven wrong...
  • Cortana works with IOS Android and Windows. So it's okay if she buys a BMW, Cortana works on the IOS device
  • Errrrr - you missed my point. Trying finding the official BMW app in the Windows Store - this is what we need
  • Yes but Cortana on iOS and Android blows, and she cannot be set as the default AI on either platform.
  • Maybe trade it in for a Volvo... :P
  • 😊
  • Give it up already. I wasted 6 years supporting Windows Mobile tirelessly. It's pointless. Microsoft has no idea what to do with mobile, and Suckya Nutella doesn't give a rat's ass about phones anyway.
  • THIS will bring Cortana's crashes to a whole new level ! =D
  • Rather manufacturers let us the option to continuum into car mode on the screen and then you don't need to worry about car infotainment upgrade or in car lte, just switch up the phone! I'm probably buying a Chevy Bolt this year, and just hope Cortana can activate the Bluetooth and away I go
  • My aftermarket head unit supports HDMI in, so this is already possible.
  • Problem is that now the cars have the unit so blended into the dash/console, aftermarket doesn't fit right no?
  • That is a very good point. If you want continum in your car, the aftermarket deck would not look quite as good in the dash as the factory deck. The aftermarket deck would have more features, and way better sound, but that is not for everyone. Thanks!
  • The better BMW HiFi for arround 300€ is actually really good (and the same speakers as the actual Harman for 1100€, but without the logo). However, together with the Opel Sound System (Burmeister I think) it's best built in Audio System i ever heared, outplaying many way more expensive DIY-Kits.
  • How is this better than having my phone in the car with me? I can already mount it to the dash in ANY car (mine, a friends, a rental, etc.) and if I have a Bluetooth head unit it will integrate with car speakers and steering wheel controls too.
    Plus how often will BMW update their infotainment system compared to how often I can update my phone?
    My phone also has maps, and music that integrate with Cortana on my phone. Will the car Cortana be able to play content from my phone? Even if it does, it's a bit redundant to having my phone with me. Do I need another cell plan for the car?
    When I ask Cortana to do something will the car respond or my phone, or both confusing the driver? What if my passenger has Cortana on his or her phone and wants to play music in my car? I fail to see how this is going to benefit anyone that already has a smartphone. Anyone help me here?
  • You're slightly missing the point. This isn't just for WP users, its a way of bring Cortana into everyone's lives. Say someone using an android buys a car with Cortana. With it already integrated into the system, it would be convenient for said person, and slowly may become accustomed to the AI. Now let's imagine there's a business person. They've just been on the laptop and have planned their journey in advance. They could use Android, but because the PC is Win10, they can have Cortana remember this and find the fastest route before they've even reached their car. Then just start the car and go. Same for notifications. Instead of using tons of separate AI's, they may set a reminder on their phone, and half way through their journey, the car will remind them via Cortana. It's not really the case of "How useful is this to me alone", more "How useful is this in expanding Cortana's usefulness to *everyone*", its a tactic MS is using to get even more people using their services, with everyday decides, and now vehicles
  • Thank you very much for your reply. I kind of see what you are trying to say, but what I still don't get is my WP, iphone, or Android phone will already have Cortana, so no need to have it in the car too. E.g. If I just planned my trip on my laptop, and then jump into my car will my phone not be able to also find the fastest route before I've reached my car? Could I not simply start me car and go anyway? Why do I need Cortana in my car when I already have my phone in my car? Same would go for notifications and reminders would it not? My phone can remind me half way to my destination as well. What benefit will Cortana in my car get me that my phone can't already do for less monthly cost and complications? Also, the data from my laptop to my phone is highly integrated now, how long will it be for my car to even get close? How fast will BMW update Cortana in my dash vs Microsoft on my phone / laptop? My phone already has a data plan so no need to have yet another monthly bill for my Car too. The slow trickle "Cortana is everywhere" tactic might be a benefit to MS, but they can do so much more to win people over when Cortana on everyone's phones can beat Siri, and Google Now in EVERY category and in more languages, no?
  • Honestly, who knows :P I know just as much as you do on the matter sadly, but after reading your comment I realised I may need to change one sentence in my past message to "This isn't just for current Cortana users" This seems more like a tactic just to get more people using Cortana who don't already use the service. However I can't answer any of them questions haha ^ but I'm sure they'll think of something to make it a different experience in some way, or find a way to make it more convenient than using mobile. Who knows, we'll have to wait and see :) Edit: And to do with languages; as I had said in my reply to someone else earlier, they do need to start working on getting more languages on board on Cortana. Takes them too long to get each languages supported, then even accents trip them up. If they want to cooperate with global vehicle companies, they need to start focusing on languages and global support much more
  • Now if only BMW would make a consumer-friendly Hog to drive (from Halo 2)....
  • and it connects to my new WP device...hoping to hear that... you know can start my car with my phone, get info about my car, have my car come get me (when that AI is there)...all on the new Windows Personal Device running W10.  not a phone...that fits in my pocket....
  • Or let's say any Windows device. My plan is to hung my Surface 3 (when i buy a replacement)  onto the wall as Family Informlation Center. Calling the car with it would be great (parking in our street often means walking a view hundert meters due to lack of parking space).
  • Good news
  • Great video Microsoft. It felt like getting kicked in the balls seeing your principal program manager use Cortana on his iphone. What hope do we windows phone fans have.
  • None. Windows Phone is dead.
  • Cool!  If I start saving now, I should be able to afford a 2018 BMW by 2028. I have a 20 year old M3 that I love dearly. I love you cortana!
  • It has a SCREEN!!!!!!!!!! So BMW, Audi, Ford all putting Cortana in. MS doomed.
  • why just why are all those integrated car display interfaces so ugly and visually unpleasant? :/
    anyway looking forward to seeing more of microsofts approach for the 'next' car.
  • about time microsoft had a carplay/android auto competitor. I dont have high hopes that this will show up on alot of car models. Many car companies are still resisting the switch to android auto and carplay. I cant imagine many would even give this the time of day.
  • Please Reboot your car to install new update. It will take several minutes while I am in the middle of the road.