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BMW’s iPad Integration Is All Kinds of Ugly

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I like cars almost as much as I like technology, which is why a headline about BMW offering an official iPad integration kit caught my eye. But then I saw the pictures and cringed. BMW showed off a 3-series convertible with the horrific iPad integration at the Paris Auto show and AutoSpies.com captured it on camera.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology in cars, but this thing is wrong in so many ways. First of all, it looks horrible and is the perfect way to ruin the aesthetics of a $50k car when cruising with the top down. The docking connector is visible and the white cable i visible, running into the headrest posts. Would it have killed BMW to color match the cord to the leather interior, which is about a $3k up charge from the synthetic seat covers?

The worst thing about this iPad integration kit is its lack of concern for passenger safety. You see,  headrests are part of any vehicle’s restraint system. Positioned at the appropriate hight, they can keep passengers in the front seat from snapping their necks in a collision. They’re also supposed to be positioned far enough away from passengers in the rear seat so that their faces don’t get smashed in a violent collision or when panic braking. The distance between the rear seat and the front headrests are already minimal in the BMW 3-series and sticking an iPad a few inches off the back of the front seat only makes it worse. Playing Angry Birds on the iPad with the drop top down while cruising at 65mph is all fund and games until your kids get a face full of glass.

Short drivers and front-seat passengers won’t be able to properly adjust the headrest since the iPad kit blocks the first couple of stops.

BMW has a lot of design wizards, but apparently none had spare time to deal with the iPad. I’m hoping that they put some more thought into this design instead of trying to claim an industry first.

Xavier Lanier is the publisher of Gotta Be Mobile and a photographer. He uses too many devices to count, but his current favorites are the iPhone 5s, HTC One, Nikon D800 and Sony RX 100M II. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.

10 Comments

  1. aftermath

    09/30/2010 at 9:29 am

    I like you, Xavier. Your comments here are absolutely perfect.

    In related opinion, it’s nice to see a car people buy on the basis of brand embrace a computer that people buy on the basis of brand.

    Speaking matching the computer to the car, a client-turned-friend of mine was ticketed for testing the limits of his G-Wagon on I-5 over the summer. While receiving his ticket, the office made a point to complement his technology, not the car, but the RAM mounted GD8000 he had upfront. My buddy claims that, because he’s not a beautiful woman, he tries to use his fancy toy to get out of tickets by offering officers the hands on treatment. However, he was going a little quick to get out of this particular ticket.

  2. Rick Hendershot

    09/30/2010 at 12:32 pm

    Hey Xavier. You’re absolutely correct. This looks terrible. I’ll bet even Apple will cringe over this. It makes the iPad look like a real clunker, not to mention the car. Can you imagine two people in the back of a 3 series convertible actually using these things?

  3. Chris Hickie

    09/30/2010 at 5:16 pm

    Maybe there’s an airbag they didn’t tell you about that pop’s out in time to keep the back seat people from embedding the ipad in their eyeballs.

    It is very ugly indeed. Geez, save the 3 k and just buy 2 ipads for the back seat.

  4. Matthew Wise

    10/01/2010 at 5:07 am

    Just to let you know this is in fact a 1 Series, however this is still ugly.

  5. atlea

    10/01/2010 at 11:35 pm

    BMW family here, I’ll declare it right now. Xavier I love the site and am a long time reader, all the posts are great especially Warner’s interesting theatre escapades in winter storms. So this comment is written with no hostile tone whatsoever and just to add discussion alright?

    I’ve seen this ugly comment about the bmw ipad integration on 2 or 3 sites now and I’ll admit it doesn’t please me like a titanium polished bezel… but I like it’s simplicity. I like how it uses minimal space to lock onto the headrest and is slightly view-adjustable. I DON’T like the white cable either but with regards to the colour matching – have you considered how not every car has beige leather? BMW has so many selections available I think it would be less efficient to provide a matching cable for each rendition. Perhaps they should’ve made the cable universal black.

    I don’t think the criticism for for passenger safety could apply either. If you’re going to put a mobile video device in the headrest, a car computer stand, etc. It will be in front of your face. This is the price to pay for wanting a screen in front of you – whether it’s a Mercedes or Bentley. You are spot on about the headrest being a collision mechanism but where else could BMW have placed the ipad? At chest level? The passengers would just try to move it up. Your head is clearly the optimum viewing position and it does detach if you don’t want it there. The biggest issue with designing a screen holder while not using the headrest rails (your critique of it jamming the headrest adjustment for front passengers) is that you either get a huge arm holding it, ala floating desktop monitor mounts, or to permanently install it into the headrest itself (device becomes non-removable).

  6. Anonymous

    12/02/2010 at 11:12 pm

    The iPads look great. Are you people crazy? This is the reason I am holding out in buying the X5 until they have this.

  7. www.centralcontracts.com

    12/23/2010 at 10:29 am

    Something of pure luxury I wish I could have it in my BMW.

  8. KLS

    04/09/2012 at 5:29 am

    Why are you people thinking that this is ugly?  It looks great.  Have you seen the standard DVD headrest players that BMW has that they charge several thousands per unit?  Now that is an ugly beast and costs an arm an a leg.

    I have my 2012 X5, 20 inch wheel and actually ordered the holders and bases from UK a few months ago, before the US was permitted to carry this holder.  Just about everyone I showed my X5 to, they all think the iPad mounts in my X5 (two of them) absolutely stunning looking.  

    Regarding the white USB cord, I bought 2 black ones to match the rest of the enclosures.  Even the white ones look fantastic.

    My iPad is connected via bluetooth to the entertainment system and the whole thing just works.  These mounts are the most stunning looking of all.  There are many 3rd party made mounts and they are horrible.  BMW and Apple rule the world.  

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