BMW announced that beginning in a new virtual assistant that responds to the prompt “Hey BMW” will be included. This feature is designed to help drivers access and operate functions and information in their cars simply by speaking.

The personal assistant will also be able to assist the driver outside the vehicle, whether it is at home with the help of a smart speaker or out and about via smartphone. The assistant will be compatible with other digital voice assistants beyond Amazon Alexa, as well.

The personal assistant’s capabilities continue to be developed via BMW’s Open Mobility Cloud and the use of artificial intelligence. The range of functions and skills available will be constantly expanded as part of regular updates, which can be carried out seamlessly on a smartphone and in-car by remote software upgrade.

“BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant teams up with the new BMW Operating System 7.0 to create a brand new, digital form of interaction with the customer’s BMW that redefines the whole driving experience,” said Dieter May, Senior Vice President Digital Products BMW Group.

BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant can learn routines and habits and can apply them in the appropriate context. It is designed to help the driver, learn preferences, and be familiar with preferred settings, such as for the seat heating or the places they drive to frequently using the navigation system.

The company says that one unique feature is that drivers can give it a name (for example, “Charlie” or “Joy”) to lend it even greater individuality and personality. The company adds that the Intelligent Personal Assistant can even provide casual conversation (“Hey BMW, what’s the meaning of life?”). It is familiar with the vehicle’s functions and can operate them as required. Saying “Hey BMW, I’m cold” will prompt the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant to adjust the temperature inside the car accordingly.

The assistant is designed to benefit from constant technical upgrades and be able to learn more and more preferences and favored settings. It can reportedly take further strides forward with every command given, every question asked, and every setting made. Forming the basis for all of this will be the portable, digital customer profile—the BMW ID. This profile links the car to the customer and his or her digital world.

The BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant can explain functions (“How does the High Beam Assistant work?”), provide current status information (“Is the oil level okay?”), and help answer questions (“What warning messages do I have?”). It can even reportedly activate a combination of functions to enhance well-being. For instance, “Hey BMW, I feel tired” triggers a vitality program that adjusts the lighting mood, music, and temperature, among other things, to make the driver feel more awake. The company says that in the future the assistant will also be able to give fuel-saving driving tips or think ahead and warn drivers as necessary.

To ease navigation, drivers can give it access to their calendar and contacts, which will enable it to find parking spaces at the destination, provide information on traffic jams along the route, and remind the driver when they need to set off. It can also learn the customer’s frequent destinations.

The assistant’s integration with Microsoft Office 365 and Skype for Business are intended to transform the BMW into a mobile office, and allows the assistant to join teleconferences at the driver’s request and read out emails. BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant can instantly identify the song currently playing on the radio and search stations for the desired type of music (“Play classical music please”).

The Intelligent Personal Assistant will be available in a basic version with voice control in 23 languages and markets from March 2019. In the U.S., Germany, UK, Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Brazil, Japan, and (from May 2019) China, the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant will also feature more natural voice control along with further intelligent functions. The personal assistant will be offered for models featuring the new BMW Operating System 7.0 and as part of the Live Cockpit Professional (6U3). The scope of functions can be extended with the Connected Package Professional.

The personal assistant will be available to order for the new BMW 3 Series from November 2018 and will be included for three years. From March 2019, new BMW X5, Z4, and 8 Series models fitted with the BMW Operating System 7.0 will be able to install the full version of the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant by Remote Software Upgrade without having to visit a dealer.