Apple CarPlay for BMW Models: Here’s a Quick Look

Is Apple CarPlay available for BMW? Which models (new & old) include it and is it free? Is retrofitting CarPlay in pre-2017 models possible?

Preinstalled in newer BMW models, Apple CarPlay integrates with the vehicle’s onboard system and accessible via the controls, usually a touch screen you find front and centre in the dash where you can view all the apps. It’s all possible with the BMW ConnectedDrive system. Read our full What is Apple CarPlay article here to get the full story.

Do BMW owners need to pay for CarPlay?

No, Apple CarPlay is now a free service for bimmer owners — as it should be considering it’s a no-cost service with other automakers. 

$300 charge to $80 subscription to free (finally)

When it first arrived in BMW in 2016, there was a whopping $300 one-time CarPlay charge for buyers who wanted it (good for 20 years). Considering this is an app-based setup integrating with the owners’ phones, paying out of pocket seems like an easy cash grab. But when those pricey $2,500 navigation system upgrades disappeared, we can see why they started charging for this stand-alone option. 

Also, considering CarPlay was free in 2016 for other automakers including Chevrolet, paying $300 was a stretch. But in fairness to BMW, however, they were one of the first to introduce wireless CarPlay, whereas other brands still required a USB cable plugged in.

Then, they went from the one-time charge to a $80 subscription service for Apple CarPlay alongside their ConnectedDrive service, which BMW ultimately dropped heading into 2020. So, the whole thing is no-charge now.

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As The Verge states, it appears that BMW has seen the error of its ways.

2021 BMW models with CarPlay now get car keys

Apple is constantly improving their in-car service, including a new service for 2021 called car keys where owners can now unlock and start their car with iPhone. Other brands have similar services, including Ford’s FordPass. 

Good news for BMW shoppers as nearly all models find CarPlay for 2021 — and all these will benefit from car keys as well. Here’s a look at the BMW lineup with the service:

2021 BMW SUV & crossovers with CarPlay

  • 2021 X5
  • 2021 X6
  • 2021 X7
  • 2021 X5 M
  • 2021 X6 M

2021 BMW cars with CarPlay

  • 2021 1 Series
  • 2021 2 Series
  • 2021 3 Series
  • 2021 4 Series
  • 2021 5 Series
  • 2021 6 Series
  • 2021 8 Series
  • 2021 Z4

Past BMW models with CarPlay

  • 2019 – 2020 i8
  • 2019 – 2020 Z4
  • 2018 – 2020 X1
  • 2018 – 2020 X2
  • 2018 – 2020 i3
  • 2018 – 2021 X7
  • 2018 – 2020 8 Series
  • 2018 – 2021 X7
  • 2017 – 2021 3 Series
  • 2017 – 2020 1 Series
  • 2017 – 2019 6 Series
  • 2017 – 2020 2 Series
  • 2017 – 2020 4 Series
  • 2017 – 2020 5 Series
  • 2017 – 2020 7 Series
  • 2017 – 2020 X3
  • 2017 – 2020 X4
  • 2017 – 2020 X5
  • 2017 – 2020 X6

Retrofitting AppleCarPlay in older BMWs — is it possible?

Sure, a 2016 BMW certainly isn’t an old car, but in the world of tech, it’s kind of a dinosaur. Nevertheless, yes, you can retrofit aftermarket head units for the full CarPlay experience in older bimmers and access all those iPhone apps — from music library and contacts to maps and navigation. 

We won’t go into the whole process of retrofitting pre-2017 BMWs with units, but you can read more about it at bimmer-tech.net here.

Takeaway

While BMW was an early adopter using Apple CarPlay wirelessly, the German automaker charged for the service — from that $300 one-time fee to an annual $80 charge. Now, it’s free and all 2021 BMW models even get the car keys integration which will be a huge bonus. And for all those older bimmers, retrofitting a CarPlay compatible head unit is within reach with a bit of heavy lifting and extra costs incurred, of course.

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If you’re more a Google person, read our What is Android Auto article here.

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