BMW's Mini is the unofficial iCar

Mini, owned by the BMW group, will be debuting what it describes as groundbreaking industry-first app-level iPhone integration with its car.  It's a central computing system that they've christened Mini Connected that will integrate with the iPhone through native applications.

Once your iPhone is integrated into the Mini's system, a center console-mounted joystick is to be used to control and issue instructions on the high-res display.  The first application will be a Web radio streaming function, where, drivers will be able to stream thousands of Internet radio stations from across the world.  Then, there's Mission Control, a service which, given its action movie-esque name, will "evaluate a vast range of vehicle information, driving situations and vehicle environment-related signals to supply the driver with relevant commentary and instructions".   Both will debut at the 2010 Geneva Auto Show this week, and  first be made available in the new Countryman, a small SUV coming out from Mini.

It's only logical to say that carmakers  are endeavoring to create "smarter" cars these days, with the influx of technology that have pervaded so many other industries.  Iet's just hope that they never lose sight of what's most important; the actual driving of the car.

More driving enjoyment with new connectivity solution: MINI Connected.

New technology unique to MINI opens up a whole new dimension of in-car entertainment – system debut at the 2010 Geneva International Motor Show.

• World-first in-car entertainment solution with innovative, unique-to-MINI technology for integration of the Apple iPhone.

• Safe, convenient, intuitive control of all functions via the MINI operating system.

• World debut of in-car web radio; unique possibilities for customisation and integration of additional functions.

• MINI Connected brings enhanced user functionality and customisation to the MINI-exclusive Mission Control function.

Munich. MINI has chosen the 2010 Geneva International Motor Show to launch an all-new, world-first in-car entertainment solution: MINI Connected. Through intelligent connectivity between the driver, his MINI and the outside world, MINI Connected offers new options for further enhancing the hallmark driving fun associated with the brand. Some of these new possibilities will be presented in Geneva. MINI Connected will be launched simultaneously with the MINI Countryman, as an optional specification.With MINI Connected, MINI is the world's first carmaker to offer a newly developed USB interface whose unique functionality allows maximum integration of the iPhone into the in-car audio and infotainment system. This MINI-exclusive technology provides the basis for new and unprecedented integration of smartphone functions, taking the in-car integration of modern smartphone telecommunications, entertainment and online functions to a whole new level.

All the functions integrated in the MINI courtesy of the Apple iPhone are activated and controlled using the vehicle's own operating system. When the system is fitted in conjunction with the – likewise new – MINI Visual Boost radio, the full range of MINI Connected functions can be used. The radio's high-resolution colour display, which is integrated in the Centre Speedo, and the centre console-mounted MINI joystick provide the ideal basis for convenient, simple and intuitive operation. Information and instructions follow the MINI's particular display logic, while the familiar MINI operating structure allows drivers to select and activate any function with minimal distraction from the road and traffic. To customise the system, applications can be selected or deselected quickly and conveniently using the vehicle controls.

World-first: the MINI Connected web radio function.

The web radio function will be showcased in Geneva as a typical example of the extended possibilities opened up by MINI Connected. In a "hooked up" MINI – linked to the outside world via MINI Connected – the driver will be able to have his choice of radio station streamed to him anywhere in the world, provided the station is available in the extensive station database. The desired station is selected using the familiar controls on the MINI audio system, ensuring highly safe and convenient operation even while on the road. MINI is the world's first carmaker to offer such a function as an option for production vehicles.

In addition, MINI Connected allows a variety of other services and functions to be integrated into the car as well. The innovative iPhone interface provides unique data exchange capabilities, allowing a huge range of infotainment, navigation and communication functions to be used on board the vehicle. MINI Connected also allows functions to be enhanced or personalised to the driver's individual preferences.

The diversity and flexibility offered by MINI Connected across a host of different functions is new in the car industry. The unique, future-adaptable MINI Connected technology will guarantee customers instant access to future innovations in the fields of entertainment, communication, navigation and information.

Exclusive to MINI: Mission Control.

MINI Connected also incorporates the Mission Control module, which made its debut in the MINI 50 Camden anniversary model. Mission Control evaluates a vast range of vehicle, driving situation and vehicle environment-related signals and supplies the driver with relevant information and instructions in customary MINI style. Mission Control gives the driver an even stronger sense of interacting directly with the vehicle, reinforcing the whole concept of the MINI as a car with character and personality.

The vehicle-related signals are used to generate constantly changing, situation-dependent messages. The dialogue may take the form of safety and comfort-related advice – for example prompts to fasten a seatbelt or guidance on the air conditioning system – or may provide information relating to the current driving situation and operating status (for example outside temperatures or fuel tank level). The wide repertoire of messages, which marks a significant advance over previous systems, makes for a continually varied dialogue between the MINI and its driver, even in familiar and frequently recurring everyday driving situations. And thanks to MINI Connected, Mission Control now offers extensive functional enhancement and personalisation options including, for example, a choice of language versions and driving modes.