In One Of The Most Ridiculous Chip Shortage Feature Removals To Date, BMW Ditches Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Bmw Apple Carplay

Throughout the chip shortage, automakers have tried to be nimble by cutting features, shaking hands with new suppliers and doing whatever they can to get cars out of the factory. For a while, Toyota Tacoma midsize pickup trucks were shipping with just one key. General Motors removed automatic stop-start from its full-size trucks and SUVs. Ford simplified the number of modules in its Mustang Mach-E electric crossover. Fairly alright moves for the most part. However, adopting a nimble strategy has risks. Remember that old nursery rhyme where nimble Jack tried to jump over a candlestick and ended up burning his toe? Well, something similar is going on at BMW where customers and the brand are both getting burned.

See, BMW’s doing fairly alright through the semiconductor shortage. The marque is focusing on higher-volume cars, cutting a few options like adjustable passenger seat bolsters and working quickly to onboard new suppliers. However, just because new semiconductor suppliers have products that fulfill BMW’s needs doesn’t mean that BMW’s software will work flawlessly with the new hardware. Automotive News Europe is reporting that because of a change in chip suppliers, some new models may not get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto capability until a software update is pushed out, possibly as late as the end of June.

Bmw 6p1 Carplay Memo
Photo credit: GreyLVKnight

However, that’s not the whole story. Bimmerpost user GreyLVKnight posted a screenshot of an email about these infotainment equipment issues and things look to go a whole lot deeper than just CarPlay and Android Auto. Per the email addressed to “military sales partners,” the build sheet for a new BMW includes code 6P1, two-device Bluetooth call pairing, two-device Bluetooth streaming audio and the in-car Wi-Fi hotspot will all be temporarily disabled. Moreover, this issue appears to affect just about every current model-year car and SUV BMW makes. Here’s the official list.

G42 2-Series Coupe

F44 2-Series Gran Corolla, er Gran Coupe

G20 3-Series Sedan

G21 3-Series Touring

G80 M3

G22 4-Series Coupe

G23 4-Series Cabriolet

G26 4-Series Gran Coupe

G82 M4 Coupe

G83 M4 Cabriolet

G30 5-Series Sedan

G31 5-Series Touring

F90 M5

G14 8-Series Cabriolet

G15 8-Series Coupe

G16 8-Series Gran Coupe

F91 M8 Cabriolet

F92 M8 Coupe

F93 M8 Gran Coupe

G29 Z4

G08 iX3

G01 X3

G02 X4

F97 X3 M

F98 X4 M

G05 X5

G06 X6

F95 X5 M

F96 X6 M

G07 X7

In addition to these models outlined in the memo, multiple forum users on the babybmw boards report that their recently-delivered F40 1-Series models don’t have CarPlay or Android Auto functionality either. Holy crap, that’s a lot of vehicles missing a fairly common set of features. So what’s unaffected? Well, not a whole lot, it appears. The i4, iX and U06 2-Series Active Tourer are unaffected as they use the latest eighth iteration of iDrive. The F48 X1, F39 X2 aren’t yet confirmed to be affected, but there’s still a chance they are.

Bmw Android Auto
Photo Credit: BMW

Now I don’t know about you, but I’d be properly annoyed if I had to potentially wait the better part of two months to use CarPlay on my brand new luxury car. While other BMW owners have suffered worse — like anyone who experienced the common timing issues of the N20 four-cylinder engine, every V8 M3-owner who has to consider rod bearing replacement as periodic maintenance, or every E63 and E64 6-Series owner who’s learned the hard way that a cup holder can retail for more than $1,000 — a lack of phone mirroring isn’t exactly a drop in the bucket. It’s like getting ketchup on a white shirt or having a service delay pop up on the parcel tracker for your latest order of car parts. Sure, this issue will be resolved sooner or later, but when a $13,600 Chevrolet Spark city car has phone mirroring and your Ultimate Marketing Machine doesn’t, it’s entirely right to be a bit upset.

At the same time, I do feel bad for BMW’s software engineers. While the coding itself can be time-consuming, the process of testing, patching, testing and eventually committing to a stable version takes absolute ages. Imagine having to do phone mirroring all over again while an angry mob is screaming down the customer service hotline. That’s about as fun as realizing you’re on fire. Anyway, fingers crossed that BMW can sort this CarPlay and Android Auto integration quickly and push out a stable release before the end of June. Wi-Fi hotspot functionality is confirmed to have returned on May 4 according to this forum post which also alleges that CarPlay and Android Auto fixes will start rolling out come May 19. In the forum post is a screenshot that appears as if it could be from BMW’s own ISTA diagnostics and programming software, although it is cropped in quite close. The speed and scope of this alleged roll-out is currently unknown, but hopefully it’s quick and wide. I know that we car enthusiasts often lament the level of in-cabin technology in new vehicles, but an infotainment system that lacks CarPlay and Android Auto seems like a deal-breaker to me.

Lead photo credit: BMW

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32 Responses

  1. I’m glad you pointed out the software engineers (shout-out to firmware engineers too!). I do component buying on a substantially smaller scale than an automotive manufacturer, and even in my small world the ripple caused by a component change is substantial. Guys like BMW get first dibs, and we’re lucky to ride in their wake (I’m waiting on a MOSFET from Infineon, and new order lead time is 84 weeks…the 1.2 million pieces getting produced at the end of 2022 are already booked for the automotive market and we’re hoping to shake loose 3000 from that). I do wonder what kind of resources they’re throwing at the problem. Feature reductions (or “lite” versions) pop up all over the place 🙂
    The options for the customers are either wait 2 months to get their car with that feature, or get the car today and the feature in 2 months. It sounds like the communication to customers was poor though.

  2. I came to this story to comment on an unrelated Autopian matter. Because I saw that there were only 4 comments. I thought I could be noticed here. I thought I had a good weekly content idea for the Autopian staff.
    But then I had to read the article, and the 4 comments. Nevermind, y’all know what you’re doing. They see me Corollin’s comment alone humbled me.
    Not exactly my cup of content but it’s somebody’s. Sorry to bother you.

  3. ” Imagine having to do phone mirroring all over again while an angry mob is screaming down the customer service hotline.”

    This very accurately describes what it’s like being a contractor for an automotive manufacturer.

  4. So I’ve always been a bit mystified about the whole android auto / car play thing- it’s seen as an essential feature but I have to ask “why?”

    Normal bluetooth connectivity is sufficient for audio and phone calls, should you need them. About the only use case I can think of is navigation if you want it on the infotainment screen, but even then I have never seen an implementation of car play /auto that isn’t a laggy mess compared to the native application on the phone, in which case a $20 phone mount is the superior choice.

    What am I missing, what is the “killer app” that makes this functionality so essential to so many people?

    1. I’ve never had lag on navigation using Android Auto, even when I built my own screen using a Raspberry Pi for my car that didn’t have it. The big deal for me is that the updates to the software happen with your phone, not the automotive manufacturer, so it will actually get updated. Yes, bluetooth is adequate, but it’s not superior. I have just bluetooth, as well as an Amazon Echo Auto in 2 of my older cars, and they work fine for music and calls, but they suck for using navigation.

      I managed to get a Motorola MA1 dongle and change my Android Auto into wireless Android Auto, and that’s an even bigger gamechanger. I don’t even have to take my phone out of my pocket unless I want to charge it.

      1. I assume it works pretty flawlessly? Would be super nice to have wireless AA in my ’17 Volt.

        I have it in my ’07 Cobalt via the Pioneer head unit and my god is it wonderful.

    2. Because looking at maps on the giant 14 inch screen is better than looking at your tiny phone sitting in the cupholder. New cars can put it in the dashboard and heads up display too.
      You must have used it on some crappy aftermarket solutions. Generally, I only see significant lag in carplay or android auto because of an old crappy phone.

      1. Two phones ago, trying to use Android Auto, I was basically screaming after roughly 10 minutes of lag and awfulness (then it’d work fine). Got a new phone…smooth as butter – so absolutely an old phone is a good potential reason for that, cause holy hell was it bad.

      2. You’ve nailed it, screen size makes a huge difference. The other bonus is that infotainment systems with rotary controllers (BMW’s iDrive, Mazda Connect, the current generation of Cadillac’s CUE, etc.) have a bit of a learning curve, but owners will eventually be able to work CarPlay without so much as glancing away from the road. Physical controls FTW!

      3. Nothing you have described sounds like a better experience, just glitzy marketing (like selling people pick up trucks on the basis of a bigger touchscreen). I’ve run them just fine on stock vehicles, but it’s still just “meh.” I don’t even bother using them even on my own car.

        And yet people will forsake the BMW of their status-conscious dreams and go with a Buick or something, just because of it. I don’t get it at all. Seems like a million things would be more important: power and drive-trains, suspension, styling, interior quality and comfort, performance, safety, etc. But no, the Big Phone is make-or-break for buyers, just baffling to me.

        1. “And yet people will forsake the BMW of their status-conscious dreams”

          I think this identifies the problem…. You assume people’s motivations without actually knowing, and you do it with contempt by default.

          Phone integration is table stakes at this point. If you don’t have it you’re not even playing the game. You’ve essentially admitted you need your phone while you’re driving. We all do. But it should be used through physical, tactile controls that were designed to work with you while you drive. Not while you fumble with a handheld touchscreen. And not after you modify your new car to mount a screen instead of the built-in one.

          Even if you care about performance and comfort and safety more than the CarPlay, it’s completely reasonable to discount a car that doesn’t have a “basic needs” feature.

  5. Really this could just be the latest for BMW in a storied history of antagonistic behavior towards Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
    First they hid them behind terribly expensive options packages (that included unnecessary navigation!!). Then they threatened to make customers pay an annual fee for the features.
    So it would not surprise me if they made this decision to test how much they can get away with it with their buyers under the guise of the chip shortage.
    I bought two BMWs in the 2000-2005 timeframe but because of tactics like that they’re not even on my list of cars to look at anymore.

  6. Volvo says “hold my beer.” We bought an XC60 last October, and have been promised CarPlay would be activated via a software update by end of 2021, then Q1 2022, not we’re hearing ‘by summer.’ Wife is convinced it’s never coming. Not even a chip issue, it’s a Google/Volvo coding issue, supposedly. Not a good look on a $70k luxury SUV.

    1. I would never buy something on the manufacturer’s promise that a future software update will do something. I’ve seen far too many cell phone companies promise the moon and the completely abandon their old phones.

      If you’re satisfied with the feature set as shipped and the promised features would be icing on the cake, then great. If the missing feature is a dealbreaker then the deal is broken until the feature arrives.

  7. Easy solution: Partner with Sony. Sell $500 BMW-branded Walkmans to owners as an interim fix. Offer custom bespoke mix tape recording services for $100/month. Tell ’em it’s retro, and exclusive. They’ll gobble it up.

    1. Seriously? A major car manufacturer selling cars without a major infotainment feature isn’t related to automotive?

      I guess Torch’s turn signal articles need to go too, since you don’t technically need those to drive either. (especially on a BMW)

  8. When I test drive a BMW in End of July they told me about the passenger side lumbar delete.

    When I ordered it a week later they had removed the BMW digital key for a small credit.

    When I picked it up in the end of December they told me they weren’t able to build in the the touchscreen and gave me a small credit. The iDrive puck works and CarPlay is still there so it’s OK. Bit of a pain to learn but OK…

  9. WELP…. I know nothing of:
    Phone (it is a device. It has no moving parts, therefor it is a device.) mirroring.
    In Car wifi
    Satnav
    Apple Car Play
    Android Auto
    I dont know about digital key.. or much tech stuff on any car built past 2006.

    However….
    Recently, it poured when I was going into the Parent – pick – up line at school. I wore a T shirt and running pants. SO, I thought… leave the device in my car. I couldn’t bring my usual key assortment or my wallet, so I left them hidden. Decided to also leave my “fob” as its only really for locking “remote”. So I locked my doors with my key. and held onto that.

    I dont grasp… how ya need all this extra shit to operate ya car.

    When I was done, I unlocked my door from the right pass side… started the ignition from that side, slid over, popped the clutch and took off.

    BTW….
    When It dawned on me that this is an Android system…. (Im thinking evil 1984 here), and this is being put into my car…. I was dead set against it. Why… should I have a device like this.. to be in my car? I really fucking hate the device itself.

  10. Remembering the Jalopnik article where Intel said they could print all the current-gen chips the automakers needed in a week if only they were using current-gen chips, is this the result of an automaker using current-gen chips and now having to write compatible software for those chips?

    1. IIRC the Supra still uses iDrive 6 which runs on different hardware than iDrive 7. I haven’t heard anything about the Supra being affected, and it’s quite unlikely to be affected seeing as this is a hardware issue, but I’ll keep updating this article as new information becomes available.

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