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Auto Show:  2011 Consumer Electronics Show

Mini Opens Pandora - 2011 Consumer Electronics Show

January 2011 author photo


January 6, 2011

As smartphones become more popular, powerful and indispensable, carmakers are using them to provide more services to drivers. The latest company is Mini, having just set up Pandora – the personalized internet radio website – to have a presence in its models, via the Apple iPhone.

This is part of a system called Mini Connected, the company’s proprietary navigation and infotainment system (that uses the huge central instrument dial in the dash of every Mini model as a monitor screen). With an iPhone plugged in, Mini Connected has access to the internet as well as other relevant applications made for the phone. The first of these third-party applications is Pandora internet radio, which – according to Stephan Durach, director of the BMW Group Technology Office Palo Alto – “has been requested by our existing owners and potential new customers.”

All 2011 Mini cars with Mini Connected will be able to stream Pandora through a downloadable app. And it’s free. Well, once the car, Mini Connected (starting at around $1,000), the phone and its data plan have all been worked out. When users fire up Pandora, they just input the name of an artist, song, composer or genre and the station supplies other music along those same lines. “It’s the future of radio in the car,” said Tom Conrad, Pandora’s chief technology officer.

By having what Mini calls an “open interface,” its system can be updated easily. For example, any upgrades to Pandora will be performed through the iPhone. And this principle will apply to other apps adopted in the future. “We look forward to bringing additional premium partners into the world of Mini Connected iPhone apps,” said Robert Passaro, senior project manager for BMW/Mini.

Everyone else with BlackBerry, Android and other non-Apple phones will have to wait for a while, since the iPhone is vital to this setup right now. But Durach says those other devices will be compatible with Mini Connected “soon.”

author photoCOLIN RYAN has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Mini Opens Pandora - 2011 Consumer Electronics Show - Autotrader