BMW CarPlay Retrofit: Seamless Integration Guide

Understanding BMW CarPlay Retrofit

What is a BMW CarPlay Retrofit?

A BMW CarPlay retrofit refers to the process of adding Apple CarPlay support to a BMW car that didn’t originally come with it. Apple CarPlay is an in-car connectivity solution that allows iPhone users to integrate their devices with their car’s infotainment system. The retrofit process mainly involves installing compatible hardware and software for seamless integration.

In many cases, BMW owners choose to retrofit CarPlay with BimmerTech’s CarPlay MMI Prime or other similar aftermarket solutions. This type of retrofit provides a wireless connection between the iPhone and the BMW’s iDrive system. Another option is upgrading the car’s head unit, which might be ideal for those looking to enhance their BMW’s overall infotainment system.

Benefits of BMW CarPlay Retrofit

There are several advantages to retrofitting Apple CarPlay into a BMW vehicle:

  • Improved smartphone integration: CarPlay facilitates seamless integration of your iPhone with your BMW, enabling features like Siri voice controls, hands-free calling, and messaging. This helps BMW owners enjoy a safer and more convenient driving experience.
  • Access to iOS apps: With CarPlay, BMW owners can access a selection of iOS apps on their car’s infotainment system, including Maps, Music, Podcasts, and more. This makes it easy to find directions, choose your favorite tunes, or listen to informative podcasts while on the road.
  • Regular updates: Apple frequently updates CarPlay with new features and improvements. By retrofitting your BMW with CarPlay, you can stay up-to-date with the latest enhancements and enjoy ongoing support from Apple’s ecosystem.
  • Increased vehicle value: A BMW CarPlay retrofit can help increase the vehicle’s resale value. Since Apple CarPlay is a sought-after feature, cars equipped with it are generally more desirable to potential buyers.

By retrofitting Apple CarPlay into your BMW, you can enhance your driving experience, make the most of your BMW Apps, and create a safer, more user-friendly environment while on the road.

Components of BMW CarPlay Retrofit

Understanding the iDrive System

The iDrive system is a central component in BMW vehicles for providing in-car entertainment and connectivity. It comprises of an iDrive Controller, usually located near the gear shift, and an iDrive Display located on the vehicle’s dashboard. The iDrive system allows drivers to navigate through various menus and options, including music, navigation, phone calls, and more. With the introduction of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, users have the ability to integrate their smartphone’s features into the iDrive system seamlessly.

Importance of the Interface and Bluetooth

The interface of a BMW CarPlay retrofit is crucial for maintaining an intuitive and user-friendly connection between the vehicle and your smartphone. This retrofit typically involves the process of upgrading the iDrive system to support both wired and wireless CarPlay connectivity. Wireless support is particularly valuable, as it eliminates the need for a physical USB connection between your phone and the iDrive system. Instead, the connection is established through Bluetooth, allowing for a more streamlined and clutter-free experience.

Role of the Evo iDrive

The Evo iDrive is an advanced version of the iDrive system that offers better performance and compatibility with CarPlay. It can be found in many newer BMW models, such as the 2 Series, 4 Series, 5 Series, 6 Series, 7 Series, and 8 Series. Retrofitting older iDrive systems, such as the CIC or RAD, may require additional steps, including coding and hardware adjustments. Upgrading to the Evo iDrive ensures compatibility with CarPlay and provides a smoother overall user experience.

Benefits of the 8-Band Equalizer

A notable feature in some BMW CarPlay retrofit solutions is the inclusion of an 8-Band Equalizer, which allows users to customize the audio output to their liking. This equalizer provides eight adjustable frequency bands, enabling fine-tuning of the vehicle’s audio settings for improved sound quality. Integration of the equalizer with the existing dashboard display further enhances the user experience, as it seamlessly incorporates the new audio controls into the familiar iDrive interface. This feature enhances the BMW CarPlay experience by allowing drivers to enjoy their favorite music and podcasts with precise sound adjustments.

Installation of BMW CarPlay Retrofit

How to Install a BMW CarPlay Retrofit?

Before starting the installation process for a BMW CarPlay retrofit, it is important to ensure compatibility with your particular vehicle model. Once compatibility is confirmed, gather the necessary tools and equipment for the retrofit, and set aside time to complete the process without interruptions. It is advisable to seek professional assistance, as retrofitting CarPlay can be a complex procedure.

Bimmertech CarPlay MMI Prime Retrofit

The Bimmertech CarPlay MMI Prime Retrofit is a popular choice for adding Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality to compatible BMW models, as it provides a seamless integration with the existing infotainment system. The retrofit includes a new multimedia interface module, wiring harness, and installation instructions. The installation process typically involves connecting the new module to the vehicle’s head unit, routing the wiring harness through the dashboard, and completing necessary software updates.

Aftermarket BMW CarPlay Retrofits

There are several options in the market for aftermarket BMW CarPlay retrofits. These solutions offer various levels of integration with the vehicle’s native infotainment system and can range from relatively simple, plug-and-play options to more advanced installations requiring specialized tools and equipment. Regardless of the specific solution, it is crucial to research reviews, compatibility requirements, and potential warranty implications associated with aftermarket CarPlay upgrades.

Factory CarPlay Interface

Some newer BMW models are equipped with a native BMW Apple CarPlay option, allowing drivers to access CarPlay features through the vehicle’s factory interface. In these cases, if the CarPlay integration is not already activated, it might be possible to activate the feature through a dealer or by using compatible diagnostic tools. It is essential to confirm compatibility and authorization requirements with a local BMW dealership or authorized service center before attempting activation.

Functionality of BMW CarPlay Retrofit

Using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

The BMW CarPlay retrofit allows BMW owners to access both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto easily. These systems integrate your iPhone or Android device with your BMW’s iDrive system seamlessly and wirelessly, providing familiar apps and features on the native display. Simply connect your smartphone to your BMW via Bluetooth, and your phone’s interface, apps, and virtual assistants such as Siri or Google Assistant will be available on your car’s iDrive screen.

Navigating with Google Maps and Waze

Once your smartphone is connected, you can enjoy the convenience of using your favorite navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze directly on your BMW’s built-in display. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support these popular navigation apps, allowing you to benefit from real-time traffic information, turn-by-turn directions, and points of interest along your route. Additionally, Apple Maps is available for iPhone users who prefer Apple’s navigation solution.

Entertainment with Music Apps

Entertainment is another crucial aspect of the BMW CarPlay retrofit functionality. You can access various music apps, such as Spotify, directly through the car’s iDrive system. This allows you to browse and stream your favorite tunes, playlists, and podcasts while driving, all without needing to touch your phone. The retrofit also supports other music and audio apps like Apple Music and Amazon Music, giving you a wide range of options for your listening pleasure.

Convenience of Voice Control and Messaging

In addition to navigation and entertainment, the BMW CarPlay retrofit adds an extra layer of convenience with voice control capabilities. Apple CarPlay provides Siri integration, while Android Auto incorporates Google Assistant, enabling you to send text messages, make phone calls, and search for information with simple voice commands. For example, you can ask Siri to read your messages, reply to a text, or navigate to a specific location – all while keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

Furthermore, the BMW CarPlay retrofit offers a full-screen mode with a 1280×480 resolution, allowing you to fully utilize your BMW’s iDrive screen for a better view of your content. This feature, along with wireless Airplay support and seamless integration, creates a premium experience for BMW owners looking to upgrade their infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support.

Compatibility of BMW CarPlay Retrofit

Compatibility with Different BMW Models

The BMW CarPlay Retrofit is compatible with a variety of BMW models, including the 1 Series, 2 Series, 3 Series, 4 Series, 5 Series, 6 Series, and 8 Series. Additionally, it works well with X models such as X3, X4, X5, and X6. BMW M cars, including M3, M4, and M5, can also benefit from this retrofit.

Please note that the compatibility varies depending on the vehicle’s production date and head unit type. For cars equipped with NBT Evo ID5/ID6 head units and software versions between 07/2016 & 02/2018, Apple CarPlay is possible, but full-screen functionality is not supported.

Compatibility with Wireless Devices

The BMW CarPlay Retrofit is not only designed to work with Apple devices but also supports Android Auto for Android users. This allows for seamless integration of the user’s preferred mobile operating system with the BMW iDrive system.

Moreover, the retrofit enables wireless connectivity, allowing drivers to use their smartphone’s functions without the need for any physical connection. However, it is important to ensure that your device supports wireless CarPlay or Android Auto for a smooth user experience. The retrofit also offers additional features such as an 8-band equalizer, enhancing the audio experience for users.

Overall, the BMW CarPlay Retrofit provides a high level of compatibility with both BMW models and wireless devices, ensuring a convenient and improved driving experience.

Additional Features of BMW CarPlay Retrofit

CarPlay MMI Prime and Front View Camera

The CarPlay MMI Prime retrofit offers comprehensive Apple CarPlay integration in BMW vehicles, regardless of their iDrive version. This system enhances the driver’s experience by adding extra functionality and convenience features. Among these is the integration of a Front View Camera, which can be especially helpful for maneuvering in tight spaces and improving overall visibility.

Charging and Parking Features

With the CarPlay MMI Prime Retrofit, drivers of BMW 1 Series, as well as E-Series, F-Series, and G-Series models, can benefit from EV Charging and Parking features. These provide useful information such as available charging stations and parking spaces nearby, streamlining the driving experience for both electric and regular BMW vehicles.

Subscription Options and Fees

Drivers who wish to enjoy the advanced features of BMW CarPlay MMI Prime, like Wireless CarPlay and the Front View Camera, may need to be aware of any subscription fees associated with the service. Some BMW models may require a one-time fee or an ongoing subscription to maintain access. However, it is essential to check the specific requirements and offerings for your BMW model to know the exact costs. The CarPlay MMI Prime Retrofit offers simple installation and can be connected to your BMW either wirelessly or with a USB cable.

The additional features of the BMW CarPlay Retrofit, such as CarPlay MMI Prime and Front View Camera, charging and parking features, and subscription options, make it an attractive upgrade for BMW owners looking to enhance their driving experience. With a confident and knowledgeable approach, this retrofit option delivers a clear and neutral solution for navigating the road with ease.

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.

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