BMW has unveiled the next iteration of its ConnectedDrive in-car navigation system, and it introduces a number of new features to the platform. Chief among them is the new iDrive Touch Controller, a multitouch pad used for navigating maps and browsing the web, and which also supports handwriting recognition — to reduce distraction, a voice will read out the letters as you write them. The touch pad supports familiar gestures like pinching to zoom and will be available in China starting this month, before reaching "almost all other markets" a year from now.
The company is also introducing the new BMW LTE Car Hotspot, which lets you bring high-speed internet to your car simply by plugging in an LTE-capable SIM card. It will be available starting in November and comes equipped with a battery and antennae so you can use it outside of the vehicle as well. Aside from that, ConnectedDrive is also getting a visual makeover, with new 3D graphics that include three-dimensional models of select cities, giving drivers a view of the streets and buildings around them.
This is all on top of the previously announced dictation feature from Nuance, and BMW is hoping to expand ConnectedDrive even more by releasing a software development kit so developers can build "distraction-free" versions of their apps.