There's no way to do anything on a touch-screen without taking one's eyes off the road. With iDrive, one can at least execute learned actions using the controller without looking at the screen. This minimizes the amount of time that the driver needs to remove his/her eyes from the road.
Current --> '13 F30 328i, 8SA, EBII, ZMM, ZPP, ZTP, ZLP, ZDA, ZCW, ZDH
Past ------> '08 E92 335xi, 6MT, DGM w SDL, ZPP, ZTP, ZLP