• Apps for use with iPhone
  • Seamless integration with vehicle's controls and display
  • Includes Rhapsody on-demand music service

BMW Apps and MINI Connected now offer expanded entertainment options through iPhone apps tailored to the in-car systems. The apps include subscription music service Rhapsody, audio books from Audible, TuneIn Internet radio and location-sharing service Glympse. The apps are accessed through the vehicles' controls and display so that drivers can operate them easily without handling an iPhone while driving.

Vehicles with BMW Apps or MINI Connected include other features, too, such as navigation and Bluetooth connectivity. The systems can display an iPhone's stored music library as well, so users can browse, locate and play stored music without the distraction of a handheld device.

Of course, an iPhone can only hold so much music. That's when apps such as Rhapsody and TuneIn come in handy by offering far more choices. Rhapsody is a premium, ad-free service that lets subscribers access more than 16 million songs on demand. Its extensive catalog includes 600 genres and discovery tools to help users find new music that suits their tastes.

TuneIn provides an array of choices, too. The free streaming radio app includes 70,000 stations -- AM, FM, HD and Internet radio included -- along with nearly every podcast show. That means users can hear music, sports, news and more, all streaming through the user's iPhone and accessible through the BMW Apps-equipped or MINI Connected-equipped vehicle's interface and display.

Audible is the exclusive provider of audio books through iTunes, so drivers can take their favorite fiction or magazines on the road. Kindle users can even pick up listening where they left off reading, thanks to a virtual bookmark that works across the two platforms.

Finally, Glympse is a GPS-based location sharing service that lets users notify a phonebook contact or social media contact of their location or arrival time, all without touching the hand-held device.

Not all MINI and BMW models have these systems, so new-car shoppers will need to opt for BMW Apps or MINI Connected to enjoy them. But for drivers who like to stay connected, the systems may be worth the extra money.

What it means to you: Get the optional BMW Apps or MINI Connected system if safe, seamless integration of smartphone functionality in your vehicle is important to you.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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