[UPDATE] BMW has clarified iDrive 9 will be offered only on newly built cars that will get a different infotainment head unit. Already built vehicles will continue to receive over-the-air updates but will not transition to iDrive 9.
Well, that was quick. BMW introduced iDrive 8 only a couple of years ago with the iX electric SUV and it's already announcing the next generation of its infotainment system. At the ongoing CES 2023 in Las Vegas, the Bavarians provided a first glimpse of the iDrive 9, which will be running on Android. It's coming sooner than you might think as the X1 compact crossover will transition to the newest OS in a couple of months.
According to our pals at BMWBLOG, the first new model to come from the factory with iDrive 9 will be the next-gen X2. That's not to say all models will transition to the revamped operating system in the foreseeable future as some will be updated to iDrive 8.5. Why not switch all cars to iDrive 9? It's not that simple because vehicles such as the latest 7 Series run on a Linux-based system, so the coding is substantially different.
2023 BMW X1
However, the user experience will be very much alike. The functionalities are going to be similar, but cars running on iDrive 8.5 will not have the Android app store planned for iDrive 9. BMW says the first model to use iDrive 8.5 will be the upcoming 5 Series debuting this summer alongside its purely electric i5 counterpart. The 7er will also be updated to the iDrive 8.5 later this year even though the flagship model went on sale a few months ago.
Lest we forget the Munich-based automaker originally announced plans to adopt the Android Automotive OS in mid-2022 when it said the operating system would be rolled out on select models beginning in March 2023. Aside from the X1, another model confirmed to get iDrive 9 is the 2 Series Active Tourer.
In addition, future MINI models will make the transition as well, but with a different visual interface to set them apart from BMWs. Details are scarce for the time being, although we're being told iDrive 9 will be "content driven" and with support for 3D navigation and "flexible touch layouts."