BMW announced this week the addition of two major improvements to its ConnectedDrive system, including 3D city models and a touchpad interface.

Called BMW ConnectedDrive, the new system is marked by two big improvements. The first are new graphics for the entire system that feature black backgrounds and atmospheric lighting effects, as well as a new view option for maps called “3D City Models” for select locations.

The second improvement is the introduction of iDrive Touch, which is a touchpad interface like those first used on some Audi models that’s embedded on the top of BMW’s familiar iDrive rotary knob controller. Measuring 45mm in diameter, the touchpad can be used not only for inputting characters, but also features a pinch-to-zoom function when viewing maps and will soon have the ability to control a cursor when BMW makes a browser function available. iDrive Touch will launch this month in China, where the input’s gesture control method works particularly well with that language’s thousands of characters, and then go on to appear in all other markets a year later.

The system will also be open for app development. BMW was the first auto company to offer in-dash navigation systems. The option first appeared in 1994.

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