BMW Apple CarPlay Upgrade: Enhance Your Driving Experience Today

Apple CarPlay has become a popular feature in modern cars, providing drivers with a seamless way to connect their iPhone to their vehicle’s infotainment system. BMW, a brand known for offering cutting-edge technology in their lineup, has integrated Apple CarPlay into their iDrive system to enhance the driving experience. This article will explore the process of upgrading your BMW with Apple CarPlay, discussing compatibility, subscription fees, and retrofit options.

Understanding the intricacies of Apple CarPlay and BMW’s iDrive system is crucial for BMW owners looking to upgrade their in-car infotainment experience. The integration of CarPlay enhances the already feature-rich iDrive system, allowing users to access iOS-specific apps and features directly from their BMW’s infotainment screen. Additionally, BMW offers wireless Apple CarPlay capabilities in certain models, further improving convenience and ease of use for drivers.

Upgrading to Apple CarPlay in your BMW may come with associated costs, depending on the vehicle model and year. Some BMW models require a CarPlay subscription, while others offer a one-time activation fee. For BMW owners with older models, retrofit solutions such as the CarPlay MMI Prime offer an effective way to integrate the technology into their vehicles. This article will dive into these topics, offering insights and advice on upgrading your BMW to include Apple CarPlay functionality.

Key Takeaways

  • Apple CarPlay integration enhances the BMW iDrive system for iPhone users
  • BMW offers various options for Apple CarPlay upgrades, including wireless capabilities in specific models
  • Retrofit solutions are available for older BMW models to add CarPlay functionality

Understanding Apple CarPlay

What is Apple CarPlay

Apple CarPlay is an innovative feature that allows you to integrate your iPhone with your car’s infotainment system. This means you can access your iPhone’s apps, music, and more, directly from your vehicle’s display. With its user-friendly interface, Apple CarPlay enhances the driving experience by providing a seamless connection between your iPhone and the car’s audio and navigation system.

Compatibility with BMW Vehicles

Apple CarPlay is compatible with several BMW vehicles, as long as they meet specific requirements. To use Apple CarPlay in a BMW, the car must have iDrive 5.0 and a BMW Navigation system, while the iPhone must be an iPhone 5 or newer, running iOS 9.3 or higher, and have an active data plan, Siri, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth capabilities turned on1. Various BMW models, including recent and older versions, can be retrofitted with Apple CarPlay using BimmerTech’s CarPlay MMI Prime or other head unit upgrades2.

CarPlay Apps

One of the significant benefits of Apple CarPlay is the range of apps it supports. Some of the most popular CarPlay apps include:

  • Navigation: Apple Maps, Waze, and Google Maps
  • Music: Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music
  • Messaging: iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger
  • Podcasts: Apple Podcasts and Overcast

These apps are designed to work seamlessly with your vehicle’s infotainment system, making it easy to manage your navigation, music, and messaging needs while on the road.


  1. BMW USA – Get Started Guide – Apple CarPlay Compatibility
  2. BimmerTech – How to Retrofit BMW Apple CarPlay into a 2016 or Older Car

BMW iDrive System and CarPlay Integration

iDrive System Overview

The BMW iDrive system is an advanced infotainment system integrated into the dashboard display of BMW vehicles. iDrive is designed to offer a seamless user experience through intuitive controls, customizable settings, and a high-resolution display. The iDrive system has evolved over the years, with iDrive 5 and iDrive 7 being the most recent versions, offering improved performance and functionality.

CarPlay Connection

Apple CarPlay is a feature that allows iPhone users to connect their devices to the iDrive system and access iOS apps directly on the dashboard display. With CarPlay enabled, BMW drivers can use Siri voice commands, send and receive messages, make phone calls, navigate using Apple Maps, and access other compatible apps, all while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

To connect your iPhone to your BMW, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure your vehicle supports Apple CarPlay and your iPhone is running iOS 9 or later.
  2. Start your BMW and enable Bluetooth on your iPhone.
  3. On your BMW’s iDrive system, select “Communication” > “Manage mobile devices” > “Connect new device.”
  4. On your iPhone, go to “Settings” > “General” > “CarPlay” > “Available Cars” and select your BMW.
  5. Your iDrive system will now show a prompt to allow CarPlay, click “Confirm” to proceed.

For vehicles with wireless CarPlay support, the connection process is the same, but you don’t need to use a Lightning cable.

iDrive 7 and CarPlay

BMW introduced the iDrive 7 system with several new features and improved performance compared to its predecessor, iDrive 5. With iDrive 7, BMW offers a wireless CarPlay experience, no longer requiring an Apple Lightning cable for phone integration. Additionally, the iDrive 7 interface has been redesigned to provide a more intuitive and customizable user experience, making it easier to access frequently used apps and features.

With iDrive 7, CarPlay integration is more seamless, providing turn-by-turn Apple Maps prompts in the heads-up display and Apple Maps directions in the instrument cluster, further enhancing the driving experience for BMW owners. The integration of CarPlay with the iDrive 7 system ensures that BMW drivers can enjoy a connected and convenient driving experience while staying focused on the road ahead.

BMW CarPlay Subscription and Fees

Subscription Model

In the past, BMW offered Apple CarPlay as a subscription service for their vehicles. This meant that drivers needed to pay a fee to access and use CarPlay on their BMW infotainment systems. The subscription model was introduced with the idea of providing a seamless experience for customers and generating additional revenue for the manufacturer.

Subscription Fee Elimination

However, BMW eventually decided to make Apple CarPlay a standard feature without any additional costs starting from 2019 models onwards. This decision followed customer feedback and market trends. As a result, all new BMW vehicles come equipped with CarPlay support at no extra charge, making it more accessible for BMW drivers to enjoy their iPhone applications on their car’s infotainment system.

For those who own a BMW vehicle without Apple CarPlay or want to upgrade their current BMW CarPlay system, there are options to retrofit it using third-party kits. These kits allow drivers to add CarPlay functionality to their existing iDrive systems without the need for major hardware modifications.

Wireless Apple CarPlay in BMW

Wireless Connection

BMW vehicles offer wireless Apple CarPlay, enabling you to enjoy the convenience of accessing your iPhone’s apps and features without the need for a wired connection. The system uses a combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity to establish a secure, wireless connection between the vehicle’s infotainment system and your iPhone, eliminating the need for a physical cable.

To set up a wireless Apple CarPlay connection in your BMW, you should first ensure that both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are enabled on your iPhone. Then, navigate to the iDrive 7 menu and select the COM – Mobile Devices – New Device – Phone Calls and Audio options. Finally, pair your iPhone with the BMW’s Bluetooth system, which will establish a wireless connection for Apple CarPlay.

It should be noted that your BMW must be equipped with a Wi-Fi antenna to enable wireless CarPlay functionality. Vehicles without a Wi-Fi antenna will require a BMW Apple CarPlay upgrade to enable wireless capabilities.

iOS Compatibility

Wireless Apple CarPlay in BMW is compatible with a wide range of iPhone models, running on iOS versions that support CarPlay functionality. As of now, iPhones running iOS 7.1 or later can connect to wireless CarPlay in compatible BMW models. However, it is always advisable to keep your iPhone up-to-date with the latest iOS version to ensure smooth functionality and access to the latest features and improvements.

Before launching Apple CarPlay in your BMW, make sure that Siri and Wi-Fi are activated on your iPhone, as they are essential for the proper functioning of wireless CarPlay. For more information on setting up Apple CarPlay and additional features, consult the BMW Connected Drive guide.

Overall, wireless Apple CarPlay in BMW enhances the ease of connectivity between your iPhone and your vehicle, providing a seamless experience while keeping your focus on the road.

CarPlay MMI Prime Retrofit for BMW

Bimmertech MMI Prime System

The CarPlay MMI Prime Retrofit for BMW is an innovative solution that allows you to add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality to your BMW with an older iDrive system. This retrofit is powered by BimmerTech, a leading provider of BMW accessories and upgrades. The system offers wireless compatibility for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, full-screen mode, easy control with iDrive, and support for front and rear view camera retrofits. The high-quality audio feature also includes an equalizer, ensuring an excellent user experience with your favorite apps and music while driving.

Installation Process

The installation process for the CarPlay MMI Prime Retrofit is designed to be user-friendly and can be completed even by those with limited technical skills. The retrofit kit includes all necessary components and instructions, making it simple to install the system in your BMW. First, you need to determine the compatibility of your BMW model by checking with BimmerTech’s website. Once you’ve confirmed compatibility, you can follow the step-by-step guide provided with the retrofit package.

The installation process involves connecting the MMI module to your BMW’s head unit through a multimedia interface cable. You may also need to install a USB multimedia and charging port, depending on your BMW’s existing features. After connecting all required cables and components, you can secure the MMI module in place and reassemble your vehicle’s dashboard.

Following the completion of the installation, you will be able to access Apple CarPlay or Android Auto wirelessly through your iDrive system. The CarPlay MMI Prime Retrofit allows you to use your favorite apps, navigation, and music features seamlessly, providing a significant upgrade to your existing iDrive system.

With the CarPlay MMI Prime Retrofit for BMW, you can enhance your driving experience by integrating cutting-edge technology into your older BMW model. The retrofit process is straightforward, and the added functionality will be a valuable addition to your daily driving routine.

Using CarPlay Apps in BMW

Navigation Apps

When using Apple CarPlay in your BMW, there are several navigation apps available to make your driving experience more convenient. Popular options include Google Maps and Waze, both of which provide real-time traffic updates, turn-by-turn directions, and voice guidance through Siri. These apps can be accessed and controlled using your BMW’s iDrive controller or Siri for a seamless and safer driving experience.

Entertainment Apps

Apple CarPlay also offers a variety of entertainment apps that can be used while driving your BMW. Music lovers can enjoy apps like Spotify and Apple Music, which allow streaming of songs, playlists, and podcasts right from the dashboard display. Furthermore, audiobook services like Audible and podcast apps such as Overcast can be used to keep you entertained during long drives. All these services are compatible with BMW’s iDrive system, so you can easily control the playback and access your favorite content without taking your hands off the wheel.

Communication Apps

Staying connected while on the road is crucial, and Apple CarPlay provides an effortless way to manage your phone calls, texts, and other communication needs in your BMW. The platform offers integration with messaging apps like WhatsApp, allowing you to send and receive messages using Siri’s voice recognition feature. Additionally, the iOS Phone app is accessible through the CarPlay interface, enabling you to make and receive calls hands-free.

In summary, using Apple CarPlay in your BMW enhances the driving experience by providing access to essential navigation, entertainment, and communication apps. The seamless integration with BMW’s iDrive system and Siri’s voice recognition capabilities ensure that every app can be utilized safely and efficiently, keeping your focus on the road ahead.

Additional CarPlay Features for BMW

Full-Screen Mode

One of the most significant updates for BMW owners with Apple CarPlay is the introduction of full-screen mode. This feature enables drivers to view the CarPlay interface on the entire infotainment screen, providing a more immersive experience for ease of use and increased visibility. Full-screen mode is available on specific BMW models and depends on the iDrive version in the vehicle. To access full-screen CarPlay, you’ll need to have the latest iOS version installed on your iPhone, as updates to CarPlay are bundled with iOS updates.

Personalizing CarPlay Display

With newer updates, users can now personalize their CarPlay interface by adjusting the wallpaper to match their preferences. You can choose from a selection of stylish wallpapers that come preloaded with the system, or you can add your own custom wallpaper by going to the settings within your CarPlay interface.

Additionally, BMW Apps integration allows users to customize their in-car experience even further by selecting and arranging apps on the CarPlay home screen. You can tailor your app layout according to your preferences, ensuring that frequently used apps are easily accessible. Keep in mind that all of these personalization options are dependent on your iPhone’s iOS version, so always ensure your phone is updated to enjoy the latest features.

In conclusion, BMW owners with Apple CarPlay can greatly enhance their driving experience with the full-screen mode and personalizing the CarPlay display. These upgrades are closely tied to your iOS updates, making it essential to keep your iPhone up-to-date to enjoy all the latest CarPlay features.

Aftermarket Head Units and Solutions

Compatibility with BMW Vehicles

There are various aftermarket head units and solutions available that can bring Apple CarPlay functionality to your BMW, even if it’s an older model or doesn’t have the feature built-in from the factory. These aftermarket solutions are designed to fit seamlessly into the vehicle’s existing system and work with a range of BMW models, including the Mini.

Some well-known manufacturers of aftermarket head units that are compatible with BMW vehicles include Alpine, Pioneer, and Kenwood. These units often come with additional features such as Android Auto, Bluetooth, and navigation. Before purchasing an aftermarket head unit, always make sure it is compatible with your specific BMW model. Firmware updates may be necessary in some cases to ensure that the device works flawlessly with the vehicle’s infotainment system.

Installation Process

When it comes to the installation process of an aftermarket head unit, there are generally two ways to go about it. The first option is to have the unit professionally installed by a qualified technician. This will ensure a proper fit and seamless integration with the vehicle’s existing system.

For more experienced DIY enthusiasts, it is possible to perform the installation on your own. In this case, it’s essential to consult the documentation provided by the manufacturer, as well as online tutorials and forums specific to BMW vehicles. Some aftermarket head units may require additional hardware or wiring to enable full functionality, such as enabling wireless connection or retaining the use of steering wheel controls.

Many aftermarket head units offer a split-screen feature, which allows drivers to display Apple CarPlay alongside other functions like navigation and media controls. This can be a desirable feature for those who want to maintain access to their original BMW infotainment system while using CarPlay.

In summary, upgrading a BMW vehicle with Apple CarPlay functionality is possible through various aftermarket head units and solutions. With the proper research and installation, BMW owners can enjoy the convenience and safety features provided by Apple CarPlay on their daily drives.

BMW Models and Apple CarPlay Compatibility

Compatibility Overview

Apple CarPlay is a popular feature that allows BMW drivers to seamlessly connect their iPhones to the car’s infotainment system. Most BMW models from 2017 onwards have included Apple CarPlay compatibility as a standard or optional feature. However, compatibility may vary depending on the specific model, production year, and existing hardware. For an up-to-date list of compatible models, visit Apple’s official website.

Series-Specific Information

Here, we provide an overview of the compatibility of Apple CarPlay with various BMW Series:

  • 1 Series: Apple CarPlay compatibility was introduced in the 1 Series in 2017, supporting models of the same and newer production years.
  • 2 Series: Similar to the 1 Series, CarPlay support was added in 2017, and most newer models also feature compatibility.
  • 3 Series: BMW added CarPlay to the 3 Series range in 2017, available on most trims and models produced in the following years.
  • 4 Series: First compatible in 2017, CarPlay is available across all 4 series models.
  • 5 Series: All 5 Series models from 2017 onwards come equipped with Apple CarPlay support.
  • 6 Series: CarPlay compatibility is present in the 6 Series, starting with 2017 models.
  • 7 Series: Similar to other series, Apple CarPlay is compatible with 7 Series models from 2017 and newer production years.
  • 8 Series: CarPlay compatibility is available in the 8 Series for 2018 and newer models.
  • i3 and i8: Starting from 2017, the i3 and i8 models have support for Apple CarPlay.
  • X1, X2, X3, X4, Z4: CarPlay compatibility has been added to these models since 2017. Models from later years also support CarPlay.

Note that there may be variations in compatibility within specific trims and production years. Consult your vehicle’s owner manual or contact your local BMW dealership for detailed information. It is also worth considering retrofitting CarPlay via BimmerTech’s CarPlay MMI Prime if your BMW model lacks integrated compatibility.

Georg Meier

BMW technician since 1996. I began my automotive journey in 1993 as an apprentice mechanic at Automag, the world's oldest BMW dealership in Munich. With years of experience and dedication, I garnered a wealth of knowledge about the intricacies of BMW and MINI vehicles. The love/hate relationship with the brand led me to found BIMMERIST where I share expertise and insights with fellow enthusiasts.

Post navigation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *