On the R56 connected is just another section to the screen. I never really use it, it's largely pointless.
You can have Mission Control (car speaks to you - see YouTube for examples) - a laugh at first but it'll fade from interest quickly unless you're a bit of a simpleton.
Dynamic music - plays a selection of about 30 'bespoke' mini tracks depending on how you're driving. The music isn't great and it's a feature you're never likely to use.
Social media interaction - post some generic phrases through twitter from your car - they're generic and you'll probably only use the feature once as a gimmick. It's not great, just things like "it's 13c today and I'm driving in my mini".
Sports instruments - a very poor interpretation of the traditional gauges. A power/torque gauge that lags and isn't really much use.
Dynamic Driving Profile - essentially it monitors your driving and gives you points for hard acceleration, 'good cornering', good brake control etc. It's a bit health and safety on what it constitutes as good cornering.
Minimalism - some strange contraption that encourages you to drive more efficiently. The idea is you get really smooth and the fish jumps out of the bowl, swims round and back in. You'll save fuel, but probably end up paying your insurance excess.
Mobile care hotline - programmed in phone number for mini emergency brakedown. Great for the first 3 years or as long as you extend the warranty.
Mini Service Contact - the number for your local dealer is saved in the car.
Google send to car has been stopped too - that was by all accounts the only thing worth having as you could plot your route on Google maps and then upload it somehow into the car (but only if the car had nav!)
As you can see it's a pretty pointless feature really that's more of a gimmick than anything useful. It's included in the media pack, but I wouldn't pay for it separately. It doesn't really add any value, or do anything remotely useful. You can control your ipod as if it's an ipod on the screen with the idrive controller, but I'm not convinced that's a brilliant thing or even needed. Apparently you can watch YouTube on it too, although I've never managed to get it working and I didn't see the point investing time trying as you're not going to be watching videos when you're driving and if you're not driving why you'd sit in your car to watch youtube videos is beyond me - and even if you're waiting for someone, phones aren't much smaller than the screen anyway!