Starting this month, people who buy a BMW in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, or the UK should find the navigation interface significantly improved thanks to Google. A renewal of a deal involving BMW's Connected Drive service means a couple new features have become available.
In terms of letting a driver keep his (or her) attention focused on the road, search suggestions are far and away the most significant new feature. Forget the idea of working out how to spell all of "Bar Stuzzichini" on a small screen while traveling at 70 MPH.
Now, as a post on the LatLong Blog explained, "[C]ars with our new service package will provide suggested results after you enter the first few characters - similar to what you're used to on Google's desktop web search. Suggestions are based on your location and will surely speed up your search."
Next up is a "pictures at your destination" service. When available, Google will provide satellite photos, Panoramio pics, and/or Street View images to make recognizing an unfamiliar place easy.
Finally, the blog post made the somewhat vague promise, "[W]e're continuing to make improvements to our Local Search offering. . . . By taking advantage of the rich information and fresh data this technological integration allows, we hope searching for places in your car makes it faster, easier and more exciting for you to get where you're going."
These features are sure to please BMW buyers, and might even cause one or two serious technophiles (or directionally challenged individuals) to pass up rival brands.