Pandora founder and chief strategy officer Tim Westergren just rolled up to our CES trailer in the new Mini Cooper Countryman with Mini Connected, which features integration with Pandora's iOS app when an IPhone is plugged in. Once you plug the phone in and switch to the app, Connected takes over and you navigate and control Pandora using the Mini's rotary jog dial -- BMW doesn't want you to mess with the phone while driving, so the iPhone essentially serves as a 3G modem. The Connected interface is quite clean -- it's definitely more user-friendly than the BMW iDrive system from whence it sprang -- and we were jamming along to 32Kbps Pandora streams in no time. That's a little better than FM quality, and the Pandora app does a little buffering so any gaps or blips in signal are smoothed over. Phone calls are handled by the Mini's Bluetooth system, so Pandora fades out when a call comes in, and fades back in when you hang up. It's definitely slick -- and Pandora is actually just the first Connected app to launch, with more iOS apps from Mini's partners due to come in the future. Video and PR after the break.
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Mini Cooper Countryman with Pandora integration drive-on





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MINI USA ANNOUNCES ITS FIRST PARTNERSHIP TO DEVELOP THIRD-PARTY APPS FOR MINI CONNECTED
Pandora® internet radio named as the first MINI Connected Approved App

• MINI USA and Pandora® collaborate to enable Pandora service through MINI Connected on MY 2011 MINI vehicles
• Customers will be able to operate Pandora using existing vehicle controls
• Additional third-party apps to be announced soon

Las Vegas – January 5, 2011... MINI USA announced today that the company is collaborating with Pandora to develop the first third party app for MINI Connected. Upon completion, Pandora internet radio will be available at no charge and allow customers to access and control Pandora through the existing MINI Connected system.

All 2011 MINIs equipped with MINI Connected will be able to stream Pandora, enabling access to personalized internet radio across the entire vehicle lineup. Unique features to the MINI Connected app will include popular Pandora features, such as: easy access to existing stations, the ability to create new ones using the car interface and high-resolution, color display of album art.

"Integration of Pandora has been highly requested by our existing owners and potential new customers," said Stephan Durach, Director of the BMW Group Technology Office Palo Alto. "We are pleased that we are able to partner with Pandora and look forward to offering this function across the MINI product range in a way that is simple to access and safer to operate."

Once development is complete, MINI customers will be able to download Pandora, which will immediately work with their existing MINI Connected systems. The Pandora internet radio integration, like the existing MINI Connected functions, will be seamless.

"We're thrilled that MINI is making Pandora available to customers across its full range of vehicles, thereby enabling people to enjoy their personalized radio stations while on-the-go," said Jessica Steel, Executive Vice President of Business Development for Pandora.

Demonstrations of the forthcoming app and its functionality in MINI vehicles will be offered this week during the Consumer Telematics Show and Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV.

Added future-proofing with MINI-specific apps.
The functional repertoire of MINI Connected can be extended easily by dipping into the MINI Connected Approved iPhone Apps. Any changes that are made to the apps are automatically updated through the Apple App Store. This allows MINI Connected customers to continue to benefit from technical advances and creative developments in the field of in-car entertainment into the future without the hassle of service calls to ensure the latest updates are incorporated.

"We look forward to bringing additional premium partners into the world of MINI Connected Approved iPhone Apps," said Robert Passaro, Senior Project Manager at the BMW Group. "Expect more exciting announcements in the future."

The flexible design of MINI Connected allows unprecedented integration of smartphone functions, taking the in-car integration of iPhone, entertainment and online functions to a whole new level. MINI Connected adopts the familiar MINI display and controls to ensure that all functions can be operated comfortably, simply, safely and intuitively while minimizing driver distraction.

The MINI Connected iPhone App is available for free right now from the Apple App store, and offers drivers access to their favorite entertainment and online functions of the iPhone in the car – Web Radio, News, Twitter, Google Send to Car, Google Local Search, and MINIMALISM Analyser.

The iPhone is linked to the car either via a USB cable, supplied with MINI Connected, or through the center armrest with an available snap-in adapter. Once connected, the phone can be stored and all functions are operated using the vehicle's joystick, steering wheel buttons and on-board monitor.

Another MINI first: the MINI Connected PlugIn.
MINI Connected also offers MINI Connected PlugIn – the Apple designed, automotive- grade iPod interface that supports Apple's iPod Out. This function is unique to MINI as it enables MINI Connected to display the familiar iPod navigation menu in the vehicle's display screen. It also allows control of the music playback features with an iPhone, iPod touch or the latest-generation iPod nano, using the vehicle's controls. This promotes a safer driving experience, as all of the vehicle's infotainment controls have been designed to minimize distraction while driving. This newly developed interface technology requires iOS 4.2.1 with iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPod touch (second and third generation).

In addition, the display screen gives MINI drivers direct access to the latest iPod functions, such as a custom playlist and Genius Mixes, which lets you automatically create playlists from songs in your music library that go great together.

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