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(Pocket-lint) - BMW Operating System 8.0 will make its debut on the BMW iX, as well as appearing on the BMW i4, expected to launch later in 2021.

The new system promises to be hugely powerful, with boosted underlying core power, faster data rates, and a big boost in data volume to make it as snappy as you could want it to be.

The aim is to drag the car's systems into the digital era, building on the foundations laid by BMW Operating System 7 and promising over-the-air updates and more customisation than has been previously available.

Control of BMW Operating System 8.0 will continue to support the familiar iDrive controller - which has been in place on BMW cars for many years, but it will also support touch and voice interaction.

An enhanced voice assistant

On the voice front, the newly enhanced BMW Personal Digital Assistant promises to be the better at understanding natural language for a more conversational relationship. The previous version was actually pretty good and we're now so familiar with services like Alexa and Google Assistant that there's a high benchmark for such services.

There are new graphics that will play out across the interior display of your BMW so that you can better visualise what's happening - including a reflection of whether the BMW Assistant is talking to the driver or passenger.

You'll be able to say things like "my feet are cold" to have the climate control system increase the temperature in the footwells.

Grand entrances

BMW is also making a big show around getting into your car. This has become increasingly common on cars, expanding on what was once just a sound, to what's becoming quite a performance.

With BMW Operating System 8.0, thanks to the UWB - ultra-wideband - hardware on the key or via a supported smartphone using BMW's Digital Key Plus, the car will wake up when you get within 3 metres, slowly turning up the interior lighting.

Then the light carpet will illuminate by the doors and the door handle illumination will turn on.

Once you're at 1.5 metres, the car will unlock, while the display wakes up and BMW ID settings are loaded, meaning the car is setup for the driver who is about to get in.

BMW ID allows transferable customisation

BMW ID will let you setup a profile in a car and then take that to another vehicle.

With increased customisation on offer for the displays, BMW ID and the profiles that it offers will mean that you can get the perfect setup for you - and if you drive different BMWs, take those preferred settings to other cars.

You can PIN protect your BMW ID so no one else gets to access those personalised settings.


One of the areas that we criticised on BMW Operating System 7 was that the driver display didn't give us as much customisation as we'd like. It looks like that's being addressed in version 8, with plenty of personalisation using the steering wheel controls.

There are three different layouts - Drive, Gallery, Focus - with the ability to change individual elements without those layouts.

There's also a new emphasis on widgets, allowing the driver to choose the widgets they want and the order they appear in, so that the most commonly used functions can always be a hand.

Enhanced intelligent mapping

Navigation, charging and parking are all integrated into the cloud-based mapping, and the system can learn common routes or journeys associated with a particular BMW ID, so that the car is ready for that route, such as learning you commute and avoiding delays on the route.

There are a range of different views available so you can see more or less information depending on what is important to you at the time.

Any routes that are learnt can be deleted via the BMW app, to protect your privacy - or just to remove learnt routes you don't actually need.

There will be continued support for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, if you prefer to use those systems.

Will my car get BMW Operating System 8.0?

The short answer is no.

BMW Operating System 8.0 requires a level of hardware - including 5G connectivity - and the use of the new curved display which merges the driver display and the central display. That's going to arrive first on the BMW iX and will then be in subsequent models. Older models will continue to use BMW Operating System 7.

However, BMW has confirmed to us that some elements that are being introduced will be updated for BMW Operating System 7, for example better mapping. While you won't move to version 8.0, there will likely be some updates in the future - although these haven't been fully detailed.

We will continue to update with information on BMW Operating System 8.0 as and when we get access to the new software.

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Writing by Chris Hall. Originally published on 15 March 2021.