Next up on the ConnectedDrive list is BMW Assist, a service that you'll hope you never need to use. Not because it doesn't work but rather because it's only relevant when something has gone horribly wrong. Essentially, it's an SOS service with a direct link to the emergency services that is automatically triggered in the event of an accident. The system immediately puts a call through to the emergency services using the car's handsfree telephony capability.
If the car's occupants are able to speak, they can communicate details of the accident as usual and request help. If not, the worst is assumed and the emergency services are automatically scrambled. But here's the really clever bit. Details of the car's location, including the direction of travel (that's particularly important for identifying location in the case of a motorway incident) are automatically relayed. In the UK, that's as far as the system goes. In Europe, it's even more sophisticated and includes data describing the severity of the accident and the likelihood of injuries. Nevertheless, it's no doubt a feature that will save lives.
Closely associated to BMW Assist is the Mobile Care function. Once selected in the menu, users are patched through to a BMW centre dedicated to break down and recovery services. Like the rest of ConnectedDrive, it's a complementary service for three years.
Here, things take a turn into the realms of the slightly surreal. BMW has a dedicated call centre just for ConnectedDrive customers. Once you have selected Information Plus in the iDrive menu, you are connected by voice to the call centre. During the service's core 7am-7pm operating hours, you may then put in pretty much any reasonable request for information. Operatives have full Internet access and will do their best to locate and forward information directly to the car via the MyInfo SendtoCar function.
Outside of these hours, the service piggybacks on the Mobile Care call centre and users may find the service limited to basic Google Local Search, depending on staffing and work loads. How much use Information Plus would be is hard to gauge without prolonged use. But as a free feature it can hardly be a bad thing.
Locking the keys in your can seriously spoil your day. At best you're looking at a long wait that ends with the arrival of a grumpy friend or family member with the spare key. But not with a ConnectedDrive-enabled BMW. Simply call the service centre, allow them to identify you and the car can be remotely unlocked. It's not a feature you'd ever want to use, but boy will you be grateful for it if you do. While we're on the subject of keys, for the record the E90 does not offer keyless go - the remote control key fob must be inserted into the dash.
For the 3 Series, remote unlocking is as far as the system goes. However, it's safe to assume that further features offered by more upmarket BMWs, such as remote operation of climate control in the latest 7 Series, will filter down over time.