BMW will release its in-car voice-controlled assistant next year

It can adjust settings and check on mechanical issues.

BMW unveiled its Intelligent Personal Assistant at TechCrunch Disrupt today, which will give drivers voice control over their vehicle's settings, alert them to issues and let them check in on their car's health. It's scheduled to roll out in March of next year to all BMW models with the new BMW Operating System 7.0. "The always on-call technology platform is an intelligent, digital character that responds to the prompt 'Hey BMW' and has the ability to serve the driver in a range of ways from controlling vehicle settings, navigation and entertainment systems to explaining vehicle functions and even conducting a conversation," said BMW.

If you don't like saying "Hey BMW," you'll be able to change the assistant's name to anything you want and BMW says the assistant is designed to learn about your preferences over time. It can pick up on routines and habits, allowing users to simply say "Hey BMW, take me home" when they want to navigate back to their house, for example. Additionally, simple statements like "Hey BMW, I'm cold" or "Hey BMW, I'm tired" will lead the assistant to adjust settings like the temperature, lighting and music, accordingly.

Users can also ask the assistant about various aspects of their vehicle, such as how the automatic high beams work, if the oil level is sufficient or whether there are any current warnings. Drivers can also give it access to their calendars in order to receive updates about when they should leave for a scheduled appointment. In the future, BMW says the assistant will also be able to alert drivers to potential issues, like the tire pressure being low, share fuel-saving tips and arrange appointments with a service center. It will also be compatible with other digital assistants, like Alexa, and will be accessible from smart speakers and phones.

In 2016, BMW unveiled its Connected app, which gave users access to some of the same features through their phones, but the Intelligent Personal Assistant is integrated into the vehicle's system itself. Last year, the company also announced that it was bringing Alexa to its cars, though its new assistant is meant to be complementary to Amazon's.

At launch, the Intelligent Personal Assistant will be available in 23 languages in the US, Germany, the UK, Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Brazil and Japan. It will also launch in China in May 2019. The availability of specific features will vary by market.