BMW finally rolls out Android Auto, but there are some restrictions (Update)

bmw z4 2019 2020

Credit: BMW

Update, August 3, 2020 (3:35 AM ET): BMW owners can expect an OTA update to bring Android Auto to their rides this fall. According to Android Police, drivers will receive a notification of the update via their BMW smartphone app or the car’s iDrive system. And even if you don’t receive either, taking the car to a dealer for a manual update is also seemingly an option. Read on for the full story.

Original article, July 29, 2020 (12 PM ET): BMW has come a long way from the days when it shied away from Android Auto.

Android Police has confirmed that, as promised in December, BMW is rolling out Android Auto to compatible cars (more on that in a moment) in July. While the in-car smartphone interface appears to have arrived as early as the start of the month, such as for some 3 Series owners in Europe, it’s clearly available in the US — AP‘s Richard Gao got support on his 2020 Z4 after a firmware update.

We’ve asked BMW if it can comment on availability, including a timetable for when all eligible cars will get support.

There are some caveats. Most importantly, Android Auto on BMWs is wireless only. That limits compatibility to Google Pixel phones (plus a few Nexus devices) and some Samsung models. Also, only certain BMW vehicles support the feature. You’ll need at least iDrive 7.0, and then only on the 3, 5, 7, 8, X3, X5, and X7 model lines. If you’re driving a different model or can’t get the latest firmware, you’re out of luck.

Read more: The best Android Auto apps

You might also encounter hiccups, at least at this early stage. Gao said he would occasionally get music playback stutters “every few minutes,� not to mention complete disconnections that required manually reestablishing the link.

Even so, it’s a big step. BMW is one of the few major holdouts for Android Auto, having exclusively supported Apple CarPlay for years. Brands like Chevy, Honda, and Jaguar Land Rover have supported the technology for years, if usually through wired connections. While this doesn’t quite make Google’s infotainment software ubiquitous, it’s now to the point where you don’t have to be too picky about your choice of ride.

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