We all know them: the little squares on our phone that help us with everything from checking the weather and handling our finances to staying in touch with friends. Apps are a staple of a modern, connected life. These days, few of us can imagine going through our daily routines without assistance from at least a half-dozen mobile apps.
It hasn’t always been like that. A look at the evolution of the app ecology tells a story of a rapidly booming market powered by new tech, but also very much by the way we live our lives and the tools we need to do so.
It is widely held that the first app dates to 1997, when Nokia launched the iconic Nokia 6110 mobile phone. Built into the phone’s operating system was Snake, a small arcade-style mobile game and an industry first. Ten years later, in 2007, Apple released the iPhone, and with it the very first App Store with about 500 available apps – and history was made. Today, no one knows how many apps exist. The 2021 version of the App Store, however, has almost two million available apps, which combined are projected to generate a whopping 935 billion dollars in revenue by 2023. It is safe to say that the app is here to stay.
“Apps’ popularity firstly derive from the convenience they offer us,” says Tristan Horx, a futurologist and keynote speaker on megatrends like mobility, digitalization, globalization, and sustainability from the German think tank Zukunftsinstitut. The institute regularly puts out dossiers and reports on topics that shape our shared future.
“By now, we have become used to being able to handle most everyday tasks through our phones. In this way, apps have come to play a crucial role in our lives,” he adds.
As we have grown wiser, he emphasizes, and as user needs become more defined, apps themselves have also changed. He notes that a process of maturation can be seen in which the seemingly endless releases of apps for literally any imaginable purpose is replaced by fewer, but better apps. Convenience remains key – a good app handles tasks and packages the needed information cleverly – but quality over quantity is the trend.
Apps have come to play a crucial role in our lives.
One area that has seen a true boom in app technology is what we can broadly refer to as the mobility space. As mobility becomes increasingly digital and connected, there is a greater demand for apps that can play into this lifestyle and its needs, Horx explains (➜ Read more: Our must-have apps to release your inner petrol head).
“The future of the industry is very much electric, and to many, the biggest concern is range and charging. Here, an app becomes incredibly helpful, as it can give you that convenience and make you feel like the car and your mobile device are thinking with you; it shows you where the next charging point is and how to get there, for example. In general, connectivity – the interplay between vehicle and app – allows for increased safety and security, so this is a big factor in the proliferation of mobility apps,” Horx says.
So, what is the future of apps and mobility? Are we heading towards a complete merger of device and car? A kind of mobility singularity? To Horx, the trend is clear.
“Basically, we aren’t building ‘cars’ in the classic sense anymore. Today, a car is more like a smartphone on wheels – digital from the ground up and connected. As this happens, the use of apps becomes about more than being techy and edgy – apps take over basic functions, like a car key or monitoring charging, and so replace all the problems that humans have while driving or owning a car.”
For BMW drivers, the My BMW App offers just such a way to connect life both in and out of the car.
Currently available in 46 markets, the My BMW App facilitates and streamlines interaction with BMW cars by offering a range of handy features connected to BMW ownership. These include practical, everyday features like status updates, Find My BMW, Remote Services, Connected Charging, maps and instant support, content exploration, guidance, and advice.
The My BMW App is designed to work as a natural extension of a fully connected lifestyle, tailored for BMW ownership. In this sense, more than just a practical tool, the My BMW App doubles as a channel of its own where users will find myriad functions that fit seamlessly into their lifestyle, even beyond BMW ownership:
The Vehicle tab allows users to quickly and easily gain an overview of the most important information on vehicle status and any possible service-check needs. If an inspection or oil change is coming up, a notification will alert the user and, if desired, an appointment or service check can be scheduled directly in the app.
Also to be found here is the Connected Charging function. With this feature, the user gets a full overview of the car’s charging status and access to nearby charging points. The app also notifies drivers of charging disruptions or when a vehicle has been successfully charged. Finally, charging history is automatically logged.
The Remote function gives BMW drivers a set of helpful tools that make managing their BMW easy and intuitive. For example, drivers can pre-climatize their vehicles before take-off, or view images of the surroundings of their car directly on their phone. A new addition is the return of the Horn Blowfunction. If drivers use an Apple iPhone, they can also make use of the BMW Digital Key, and finally, Remote Software Upgrades can also be managed directly, making sure vehicles are always kept up to date with the latest available software (➜ Read more: Your guide to the ins and outs of BMW software updates).
Another highlight is the new PersonalisedService Video function. If an issue with a BMW has been determined, and the vehicle is handed over to a BMW service centre, the new, PersonalisedService Video function gives BMW owners helpful information on their vehicle without the owners having to be physically present, in the form of a personalized video.
The videos are created by BMW service personnel and transmit the check-up results and other important information conveniently and transparently directly to owners on their screens. Based on this input, the owner can then easily decide which services to book for their vehicles. Payment of any services carried out can also be managed directly through the app.
Finally, under the Explore tab, the My BMW App also doubles as a tool for exploring interesting and new content. This content is curated for users by editors who handpick the latest news on products, design, arts, and culture, as well as how-to articles on selected functionalities and products.
The My BMW App is continuously rolling out and adding new features, so keep an eye out for updates that offer a truly connected way of interacting with your BMW and surroundings*.
The My BMW App is available for both Android and iOS and is free to download and use.
*Please note: Some features are dependent on local market availability and may not yet be available in your market.
Author: David Barnwell; Photos: BMW