BMW and BMW launch "first in-car music streaming service" for Europe

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 1:45pm

Hypebot and MusicWeek report has introduced the first in-car music streaming service for multiple European nations, which doesn't require a smartphone, SIM card, or dongle.

The music subscription service is available in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands for the BMW 5 series with ConnectedDrive Online Entertainment.

Rara also offers access via the web and mobile device apps. The service boasts 14 million songs and 200+ "curated" streaming music channels.

Thursday at RAIN Summit Europe in Brussels, Media UK managing director James Cridland will moderate the panel discussion "Mainstream Mobile" to discuss views on "best practices" for building listenership on mobile devices and monetizing it. Limited space is still available for the conference, visit the RAIN Summit Europe web page for registration info.

Read more here.

Online radio and music apps will be driver-controllable via BMW Apps option

Friday, March 29, 2013 - 12:05pm

Automaker BMW will integrate dashboard/steering control for Apple iPhone apps that include TuneIn, Rhapsody, and Audible. (Glympse, a fourth app partner, is a location sharing service.)

The apps will be available in the BMW Apps option in model year 2011 and later BMWs, and require an Apple smartphone. The iPhone links to the center console via USB cable or through an available snap-in adapter. All functions can then be operated with the car's iDrive controller, steering wheel buttons, and on-board monitor.

Strategy Analytics Associate Director Roger Lanctot will moderate the "Dashboard Discussions" panel at RAIN Summit West on April 7 in Las Vegas. Lanctot, a leading authority in the automotive technology field, and industry experts will discuss how best radio and webcasting can exploit the new technology that is bringing IP services to the car dashboard. Panelists include TuneIn's Carl Rohling, Panasonic's Hakan Kostepen, jacAPPS' Paul Jacobs, Aha by Harman's Chia-Lin Simmons, and Entercom's Amy Van Hook.

Stitcher joins the streaming party on BMW, MINI dashboards; updates mobile apps

Thursday, August 9, 2012 - 1:20pm

Stitcher in BMWBMW and MINI have announced in-dash support is now available for talk radio streaming service Stitcher. BMW and MINI's in-car web radio services require a connected iPhone. BMW has more info here.

Stitcher joins other services like MOG and Pandora on BMW and MINI dashboards. The companies first announced they would be working together back in March (RAIN coverage here).

Stitcher has also updated its mobile apps to include the Stitcher List, "a tasty way to find popular radio streams" that lists "popular podcasts or streams ranked in their category's top 50, new programs trending fast, and the most popular shows on social media." Engadget has more coverage here.

BMW brings Stitcher Radio into the dashboard

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 1:05pm

Stitcher Radio in a BMWBMW revealed yesterday it's integrating Stitcher Radio into cars with BMW Apps or Mini Connected services.

Stitcher is a news radio and pocast service that's often referred to as Pandora for news radio. In-dash use of Stitcher requires a connected iPhone. Drivers can use BMW's dashboard system to create or remove stations and provide feedback like "More Like This" or "Listeners Also Like."

Engadget has a hands-on video here.

RAIN "test drives" variety on in-car web radio setups at the Chicago Auto Show

Friday, February 17, 2012 - 10:00am

Chicago Auto ShowNearly a third of motorists in the U.S. want streaming media in their cars, according to the Gartner consultancy. And a Deloitte survey found that 72% of car buyers age 19-31 want smartphone app compatibility, and 59% said car connectivity is the most important aspect of a car's interior. So how is the auto industry responding to such demands?

Yesterday RAIN braved the crowds at the Chicago Auto Show to find out. After stopping back at least half a dozen auto-makers, we were struck by the variety of ways drivers can now listen to nearly any web radio service through their car speakers.

Indeed, though some manufacturers offer slick touchscreens that display album art and now playing info, these systems really only make it easier to do what most new models can already do through Bluetooth, USB or audio-jack connections. Most of the basic systems even allow control of web radio streams (using play, pause, and skip buttons on the steering wheel or dashboard). 

Pandora on MyLink in a Chevy MalibuGM's MyLink system (pictured left, playing Pandora) appeared to be one of the easiest systems to use. We tested the set-up in a 2013 Chevy Malibu Eco, which featured a touchscreen filled with iPad-like icons.

It offered options for Pandora and Stitcher, though it could stream any web radio or music content via Bluetooth or USB. MyLink supports Andriod and iPhone. Its available in the 2012 Verano, LaCrosse, Regal and Enclave -- according to the representative we spoke to, MyLink will be offered standard in most of those models by the end of the year. (Note: MyLink for Buick and GMC is confusingly dubbed IntelliLink).

Audi's in-car web set-up (pictured right, playing Pandora) was the most advanced and differed from others in not needing a smartphone for some web tasks. Instead, the car connects to the web itself using T-Mobile's network. Alas, the setup -- called Audi Connect -- doesn't include streaming web radio, which still requires a Bluetooth-connected iPhone or Android. However, you can connect to the Audi's in-car Wi-Fi and not drain your monthly data plan.

Audi Connect playing Pandora from a connected iPhoneAudi offered another nice touch: even though there's no in-dash web radio "app," per se, the dashboard screen does offer now playing metadata from web radio services.

BMW's system wasn't on display, but reps said it supported Pandora and MOG (though only through iPhones). Again, their cars include Bluetooth and USB support for playing any web radio or audio content.

The same was true of Volvo and Infiniti, though neither had in-dash support for apps like other manufacturers.

The most confusing system by far was Ford's MyFord Touch, which offered a mind-boggling interface that was nearly impossible for us to use. Much better was Ford's "basic" Sync system (pictured below left, in the process of creating a new Pandora station), which relies on voice commands rather than a touch screen. Those commands can control Slacker, iHeartRadio, Pandora or Stitcher (through a connected smartphone). You can even thumbs-up songs on Pandora or start new stations using voice commands.

Ford's basic Sync system

Toyota's EnTune system was strangely not available for a "test drive," even though it was prominently featured throughout their floorspace. EnTune supports iHeartRadio and Pandora (again, it requires a connected smartphone).

Both Toyota and Ford can stream any audio or web radio content via Bluetooth, USB or aux-in ports, which appeared to be available in most models.

In the end, it was clear that car manufacturers' "support" for certain apps like Pandora or iHeartRadio -- while most certainly helpful, both to drivers and the services -- isn't really necessary to listen to Internet radio while driving. All you need for that is a smartphone, web radio app and Bluetooh, a USB cord or an auxiliary audio cable.

Other observations from the Auto Show:

  • In-car hard drives for music (and video!) were common. BMW, for example, offers a built-in 12GB hard drive in some models, while Audi offers two SD card slots in the dashboard. As one BMW rep told us, "Why worry about your iPod or iPhone when your car is basically an iPod?"
  • Most models listed support for SiriusXM and even HD radio, but these felt almost expected, like having cup holders. Pandora and smartphone support appeared to be promoted more on banner and displays.
  • That said, some car reps were on shaky ground when discussing Internet radio support (though, in all fairness, they were probably expecting more questions about transmissions than the capabilities of Bluetooth audio streaming).
  • One Toyota rep told us he uses Bluetooth support in his own Toyota car to listen to YouTube music videos while driving. That stuck me as a fascinating insight into how consumers listen to music (as well as yet another reason to be cautious while driving).

1/25: RAIN offers handy guide to in-car dashboard web radio systems

Friday, December 23, 2011 - 11:00am

Whew! It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks for in-car Internet radio. Nearly every major car maker (and a slew of third-party retailers) has introduced some sort of dashboard Net radio system. And frankly, it’s tough to keep track of it all. That’s why today RAIN presents a round-up of in-car Internet radio... (read more here)

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