Has in-car infotainment just gone too far?

Earlier today, I was having a look at the BMW 3-Series on BMW Canada’s website, and the Infotainment section caught my eye. I figure I’m a pretty modern guy, so I have a look at it. But if I’m honest, I wasn’t thrilled by my findings.

What I found was BMW Apps — a seemingly innocent feature that goes horribly wrong when you discover that these “Apps” are just Facebook and Twitter integrated into iDrive, communicating with your iPhone or iPod Touch to give you the latest tweets and Facebook status updates in your car. There are a few other less prominent features, but I’m more interested in this social networking. Call me old-fashioned, but I have to ask — why?

If I’m occupied with piloting 1,500 kilos of metal at 100 kph, why on earth should I be interested in what my friends just tweeted? To be brutally frank, most of what they tweet is useless rubbish (not that I’m any better). I’m really not interested, for instance, in what you just had for breakfast if I’m supposedly behind the wheel of “the Ultimate Driving Machine”. And the BMW 3-Series, by all accounts, really is a brilliant driving machine. But even if you’re among the demographic of BMW that has no interest in driving excitement, you should really be concentrating on the road, not on your friend’s breakfast. That big metal box you’re piloting can do a whole lot of damage, and I’m afraid “I was on Facebook, officer!” isn’t going to be a terribly good excuse if anything happens.

Perhaps I’m being a bit too harsh on BMW here. They aren’t the only ones at fault. Ford SYNC and Mercedes-Benz mbrace2 also offer ways to access your social networks, and I’m sure there are at least a couple more out there. But I just can’t fathom why. Sure, social networking is important. So is eating. But that doesn’t making eating while driving any less idiotic.

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