NEWS

BMW to Play Nice With Android Auto, at Last

audi-a8-l-2019-android-auto--interior.jpg Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

The Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity platforms have largely been adopted throughout the automotive industry, but there have been a few holdouts (we’re looking at you, Toyota). Apple CarPlay has been worked into BMW vehicles, but Android Auto has not — until now. The automaker announced today that the functionality will be available starting in mid-2020.

Related: BMW to Finally Stop Charging for Apple CarPlay

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After the initial setup using a USB cord, operation will be wireless. BMW was the first automaker to offer wireless Apple CarPlay on select cars beginning with the 2017 model year. BMW affiliate Mini followed in 2018, and Audi added the feature in 2019.

Why did it take so long to add Android Auto functionality? That remains unclear, but the automaker has said safety played a role.

“Many of our customers have pointed out the importance to them of having Android Auto inside a BMW for using a number of familiar Android smartphone features safely without being distracted from the road, in addition to BMW’s own functions and services,” Peter Henrich, BMW’s senior vice president of product management, said in a statement.

BMW will demonstrate the new functionality for the first time at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January; the system will roll out to consumers in July on all models that use the seventh generation of BMW’s iDrive multimedia system.

When BMW initially rolled out Apple CarPlay, customers were charged a subscription (which is now being phased out). With Android Auto, however, the service is free from the start on applicable vehicles, according to BMW spokesperson Oleg Satanovsky. These models include:

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It was still unclear if and when vehicles from BMW’s other brands — Mini and Rolls-Royce — would also get Android Auto functionality.

“Mini won’t receive Android Auto functionality at the same time as it was just announced for BMW,” brand spokesman Andrew Cutler told Cars.com. “At this time, we don’t have any confirmed timeline of when this functionality may become available on Mini models.”

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