This story was originally published and last updated .
Virtually every major auto manufacturer has already incorporated Android Auto into their infotainment systems, leaving BMW as the final holdout. Although the company had claimed in 2017 that it had no plans to add Android Auto to their lineup, it must have changed its mind at some point, because it announced in December of last year that Android Auto would be coming in July 2020. Well, it's July 2020, and I can confirm that BMW has finally made this long-awaited Android Auto update available.
I had been waiting for this update since it was announced, and I was reminded of it again when I saw a couple of posts in a BMW Facebook group a few weeks back. These posts were from some 3 Series owners in Europe who had just received Android Auto compatibility. Though I hadn't seen any proof that the update had made its way to the US, and my iDrive system indicated there were no available updates, I made a mental note to have the dealer check for updates the next time I'd bring the car in for service. Lo and behold, my 2020 Z4 indicated that it needed an oil change not long after. When making the appointment, I told the dealer that my infotainment had randomly rebooted once or twice (it hadn't) just to make sure they'd install the most recent firmware. Not the most honest thing I've ever done, but I wasn't sure they'd voluntarily update it if I didn't give them a reason to.
To my surprise, the Android Auto update had in fact been loaded onto the car when I got it back. When I got in the car with my already paired phone and started it up like I normally do, my Pixel 4 automatically connected to the car's Android Auto Wi-Fi connection. I had to press a few buttons on the phone's screen, but a few seconds later, Android Auto was running on my iDrive screen. Once everything is set up, you can exit via the BMW icon in the app drawer or by simply hitting another button around the iDrive knob, and you can re-enter by pressing the Media button around the knob.
As BMW had mentioned, it is wireless-only, which has unfortunately proven to be buggy. It seems like every few minutes, there will be a stutter in the playback. I also had issues with the phone outright disconnecting, meaning I had to go through the settings, disconnect, and manually reconnect to Android Auto. Switching songs does take an extra half-second now, but at least the Spotify cover art actually shows up in my Live Cockpit Professional cluster, whereas it was blank via Bluetooth audio previously. It's also worth noting that the UI doesn't make full use of the screen's width, though it's convenient having the date/time and music playback on the side while Waze or Google Maps is running.
It seems like this update can only be performed by the dealer (Update: BMW tells us it will roll out via OTA this fall, see below), given that the remote software upgrade menu had told me my software was up-to-date when I checked. From what I've read online, only software versions that start with "07/2020" have the Android Auto compatibility built-in. Cars that have iDrive 7 are eligible for the update, and those models include:
- 2019+ 3 Series with Live Cockpit Professional
- 2020+ 5 Series
- 2020+ 7 Series
- 2019+ 8 Series
- 2020+ X3 with Live Cockpit Professional
- 2020+ X4 with Live Cockpit Professional
- 2019+ X5
- 2020+ X6
- 2019+ X7
- 2019+ Z4
It should also be noted that only phones that support wireless Android Auto (Nexus, Pixel, and some Samsung devices) will work, and only in some countries. If you happen to have the right model, the right phone, and live in the right country, the BMW Android Auto wait is finally over.
BMW has confirmed to us the Android Auto update will roll out over the air to compatible models this fall. BMW owners will be notified via their BMW smartphone app or in the car infotainment system itself. You can also, as stated in the article, take your compatible BMW to the dealer and request an update to the infotainment system to enable Android Auto.