BMW drivers can't escape work thanks to in-car Skype access:
In the age of after-hours company emails, working lunches and constant connectivity, the one place you can escape is your car, right? Not so fast, easy rider. With help from Microsoft, BMW has installed Skype for Business in select vehicles running BMW iDrive, the company's infotainment and mobility system. Just a few months ago, BMW added Microsoft's Office 365 tools to BMW's iDrive, so certain Bimmers really are turning into (very) high-speed offices.
BMW isn't the first company to unveil Skype-ing on the road, as that honor goes to Volvo. The feature allows users to join meetings via voice or screen taps, receive alerts about an upcoming Skype call, and be notified if it's cancelled. "Microsoft Exchange will also integrate calendars, to-do lists and contacts using the car's voice and navigation systems," Microsoft said in a press release.
BMW is going all in on Microsoft business tools, with support for Office, Exchange and now Skype for Business. That service will roll out in Germany, France and the UK, and BMW will ponder expansion to other markets like North America afterwards. It should hit most 5-series vehicle with iDrive, but Microsoft or BMW didn't specify exactly which vehicles would get the feature.
Using such tools while driving is not a great idea, but it would be fine for passengers and the driver if he pulls over. Conducting a hands-free call is legal in most states and nations, but as the Mythbusters crew proved several years ago (above), doing so makes you arguably more dangerous than a drunk driver.
However, it could prove very handy once Level 3 self-driving, which allows drivers to take their eyes off the road, arrives. And that future barreling towards us -- Audi recently unveiled its 2019 A8, the first vehicle on the market with that level of autonomy. If you're planning on chatting and working on some complex spreadsheets while the car drives itself, though, don't forget the Dramamine.