In 2022, How to Install Android Auto in Your BMW

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Estimated reading time: 8 min

Does
BMW Have Android Auto as a Native iDrive Option?
Right now, Android Auto is supported by 47 car makes. Earlier BMW didn’t
even plan to be among them, but in December 2019 the automaker revealed its
intention to install Android Auto on BMW models of the newest generation. The
first cars with Android Auto will see the light of day in July 2020. Only the
2019/2020 BMW models with the latest iDrive 7.0 will be equipped with this
integration. To learn more about the original software, read our blog post on
what Android Auto is and how it works.

If you’re after genuine BMW solutions only, among scarce ways of
integrating an Android device with a BMW you will find the BMW Connected app
(which strongly depends on your phone and car model meaning connectivity
issues and bugs are inevitable), Bluetooth and few others. If you really want
to get Android Auto in BMW without installing any aftermarket hardware
upgrades, you can run the app on your smartphone and mirror it onto the
iDrive screen.

HOW DO I GET ANDROID AUTO IN MY BMW?
When it comes to the native iDrive & Android Auto integration, BMW
vehicles can be upgraded with Android hub 2 ways via OEM Android Auto
activation or aftermarket Android Auto retrofit. If your BMW was produced
after 2019 and has iDrive 7.0 then the 1st option would be an obvious choice.
A simple 30-min remote coding session is all it takes to activate the option
implemented from the factory in your iDrive and start using your favorite
Android apps.

For vehicles with older generation head units such as NBT Evo ID5/6, NBT or
CIC there is another possibility of upgrading Android Auto a Autosvs original
Android Auto Smartbox. How is it different from other aftermarket solutions?

There is NO NEED to swap your BMW system for some Android Auto head unit.
You get to leave your native iDrive and use the BMW controls to navigate the
app.
It is required to install only a multimedia module (MMI) that is connected
to your BMW head unit. It makes sure that Android Auto for BMW integrates
with your car’s native system.
It’s not an Android Auto hack it’s software & hardware developed to
work specifically with BMW vehicles.

HOW TO INSTALL ANDROID AUTO IN BMW?
Android Auto Smartbox is a hardware upgrade that includes only an MMI and
wiring harness. The kit is completely plug & play and its installation
differs depending on the head unit version. The installation for NBT-type
head units takes 1®C2h (the exact time depends on each model). You don’t need
to have any professional expertise or prior experience to fit the Android
Auto BMW retrofit you will get detailed installation instructions for your
specific BMW and will be able to get in touch with Autosvs support to guide
you through any stage of the process.

The installation process of Android Auto for CIC head units, on the other
hand, looks a bit different. While mounting Android Auto Smartbox for NBT-type
head units is manageable even for inexperienced DIY’ers, the installation of
Android Auto for CIC is a bit more tedious. Therefore, if you’d need a
helping hand, here’s a list of our installers who will manage this process
for you.

Android Auto Smartbox-compatible cars include E-Series, F-Series and
G-Series BMWs with both newer and older iDrive generations (e.g. CIC, ENTRY,
ENAVEVO, NBT, NBT EVO ID4, NBT EVO ID5/ID6, etc.).

If your BMW is new enough to support the native Android Auto system,
Autosvs also offers BMW Android Auto activation coding for vehicles with
iDrive 7.

IS ANDROID AUTO WIRELESS?
Autosvs’s Android Auto Smartbox supports wireless connection just like the
original software, but the list of officially compatible phones covers only
Google’s Pixel and Nexus lines, and Samsung Galaxy phones with Android 8.0 or
higher, plus other phones running Android 11.0. Check out the full list
below:

Phone Make and Model Android Version
Pixel or Pixel XL Android 8.0 or higher
Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL Android 8.0 or higher
Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL Android 8.0 or higher
Pixel 4 or Pixel 4 XL Android 10.0 or higher
Nexus 5X or 6P Android 8.0 or higher
Samsung Galaxy S8 or S8+ Android 9.0 or higher
Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9+ Android 9.0 or higher
    Samsung Galaxy S10 or S10+
Android 9.0 or higher
Samsung Note 8, Note 9 and Note 10 Android 9.0 or higher
Other phones Android 11.0 or higher
Keep in mind that other phones may work too, even though they are not
officially compatible.

It is also recommended to install or update the Android Auto app to version
4.7, as well as using a high-quality original USB cable for the initial
setup.

ANDROID AUTO COMPATIBLE PHONES
Before purchasing the Android Auto Smartbox it’s necessary to check whether
your smartphone is compatible with the application.

According to the official website, you can use the Android Auto app on any
Android device that runs the OS version starting from 5.0 (Lollipop) and up.
Though, it recommends the OS version starting from 6.0 (Marshmallow) and up,
for better performance.

In order to see your Android version, go to the Settings and then to the
About Device section.

WHY ANDROID AUTO IS NOT AVAILABLE IN ALL COUNTRIES
Unfortunately, BMW Android Auto is limited regionally. Currently it’s
available in 36 countries you can find the full list here. But if you check
out the Google Play store and it’s not there, probably your location isn’t on
the list. In this case you can do a quick workaround download the Android
Auto .apk file from an alternative source on the web or use a VPN to change
your region and download it from the Google Play Store.

HOW DO I CONNECT TO ANDROID AUTO?
Wireless connection
To enjoy Android Auto wirelessly your phone has to support wireless Android
Auto. Once you pair it wirelessly, your phone will automatically connect with
the MMI every time you get into your BMW, without you even having to remove
your phone from your pocket or bag.

USB connection
In order to launch Android Auto via cable, you need to connect your Android
device to the car by plugging a USB cable into the separate USB socket
provided in the Android Auto Smartbox kit. You can fit it in any suitable
place, so that it’s comfortable for you to keep the smartphone
connected.

There is no need to keep the Android Auto app open on your smartphone. In
fact, your Android device can be operated independently, apart from
calls  which will go through the BMW
system.

HOW TO USE ANDROID AUTO IN BMW?
Android Auto Smartbox operates the same way as the original software is
intended to, but it’s integrated with the BMW iDrive system, which doesn’t
have any native support for Android Auto, so it works differently than in
other cars with Android Auto.

There are 3 ways to navigate the menu on the iDrive native screen:

iDrive controller (pressing and holding the iDrive Menu button to toggle
between iDrive and MMI menu or Android Auto, tilting the iDrive wheel to the
left or right to jump between different portions of the Android Auto menu,
turning the iDrive wheel to go to different sections of the menu, double
pressing the Back button to exit Android Auto and get to the MMI menu,
pressing the iDrive wheel to summon Google Assistant)
Google Assistant (Android Auto turns it on on with a press of one button,
tilt the iDrive wheel to the right or just say °∞OK, Google°±)
Steering wheel buttons (use the scroll wheel for jumping to different menu
sections, and voice button for Google Assistant). NOTE: Android Auto for CIC
lacks the steering wheel buttons control feature.
You can use Google Assistant to do a lot of things without you taking your
eyes off the road. Using simple commands like °∞Start Spotify°± or °∞Take me
home,°± you can easily operate Android Auto while safely driving your car.
You can give even more specific tasks, like asking Google Assistant to turn on
a specific song or find restaurants around your area. Just make sure you have
steady Internet connection for the Google Assistant to work properly.

Android Auto Google Assistant
To toggle back and forth between your BMW’s iDrive menu and the MMI/Android
Auto view, press and hold the iDrive controller Menu button.

WHY ANDROID AUTO Smartbox IS BETTER THAN OTHER RETROFITS
Apart from integration with the native BMW system and providing Android
Auto functionality, the retrofit also has:

Full-screen Android Auto mode on all BMW display sizes
Full-screen Android Auto mode on all BMW display sizes

BMW Android Auto Smartbox small screen main

Android screen mirroring
Can Android Auto mirror the screen of my phone? is a frequently asked
question, and unfortunately, Android Auto doesn’t support screen casting. But
Android Auto Smartbox has a custom solution – the Android Autolink app. You
just need to plug your mobile device into a USB socket, choose the app in the
menu and your phone’s screen will be mirrored onto the iDrive display. It
means that you’ll be able to stream YouTube for your passengers or other apps
not available in Android Auto mode. You likely won’t be able to cast Netflix
though, because the service blocks mirroring.

USB socket that can be used to play videos from a USB stick
A USB cable with a user-facing female socket (included into the kit) is
used to connect the smartphone to the iDrive and use Android Auto while also
charging the device. But it can also be used to play videos from a USB stick
in a full-screen mode.

The possibility to add front & rear view cameras for a lower
price
Android Auto Smartbox is based on an original Autosvs multimedia module
(MMI) that ensures the connection between the external software and the
native BMW system. It also has inputs for either front, or rear, or both
cameras, which means that you don’t need to buy cameras with a separate MMI.
Because you already have it in your Android Auto retrofit.

Full-screen Apple CarPlay
This is a perfect solution when some of your family members or friends have
iPhones while you’re an Android user. If you want to know more about CarPlay,
read our blog post.

2022 ANDROID AUTO APPS LIST
The main advantage of Android Auto over, say, CarPlay, is that it has much
more apps available. In fact, you can use:

Google Maps & Waze for navigation (offline maps as well, if you
download them to your phone first)
Android Auto Google Maps

BMW Android Auto Smartbox small screen google maps
BMW Android Auto Smartbox small screen waze

Spotify, Google Play Music, Tidal, etc., for music
Spotify on Android Auto Smartbox

Stitcher, Podcast Addict, etc., for podcasts
What’sApp, Kik, WeChat, Skype, Messenger, etc., for communication (Google
Assistant can read messages for you from all compatible apps)
TuneIn, Scout FM, etc., for radio
NYTimes, ABC News, NPR One, etc., for news
Many more
The full list you can find here.

ANDROID AUTO UPDATE
During I/O 2019, Google announced an update to Android Auto, and in July it
successfully rolled it out to the masses. Since then, it’s gone through many
changes.

The first thing anyone will notice is a dark theme which instils some
elegance to the overall look. With the new user interface, it completely
changes the experience of using Android Auto.

Before  BMW Android Auto Smartbox old
look

2019   BMW Android Auto Smartbox
main

2020  Android Auto Update

The app launcher on the start screen shows the most recently used apps for
easy and quick access, and the rest is below, right away on the first screen.
Unlike the previous arrangement, this is much more comfortable because you
don’t need to do a lot of unnecessary clicks/moves. What’s more, when you
launch Android Auto after using it, the auto launcher brings up the last used
app.

The updated Android Auto also has new apps – Calendar, News, Weather and
Reminders.
As you can see from the photo, they have a Google Assistant icon featured
on the screen. So, when you click on it, Google Assistant will tell you about
the latest news, weather situation or calendar events/reminders for a
specific day.
Among other new things, there is also a separate notification button where
you can go and ask Google Assistant to read everything you have missed.

IS THERE ANDROID AUTO WITH A WIRELESS CHARGER?
Android Auto Smartbox doesn’t include wireless charging functionality.
However, there is a Wireless Charger for 3-series F30 models that can be
purchased separately. Before buying it, make sure your smartphone supports
the feature.

WHY HAS BMW DECIDED TO HAVE ANDROID AUTO AS ORIGINAL SOFTWARE?
Thousands of BMW owners were disappointed with not being able to use
Android phones in their favorite vehicles. BMW claimed earlier that Android
Auto was not secure enough in terms of user privacy. There’ve been also
rumors that it’s just hard to implement and doesn’t have such integration
flexibility like, say, CarPlay. But given the fact that so many car makes
have incorporated the software, plus thousands of BMW owners with Android
phones, the new BMW CEO has finally decided to give way to Android Auto
software.

However, the decision to include Android Auto only into the newest models
with the latest iDrive doesn’t actually solve the problems of the majority of
BMW drivers. That’s why questions like “Can I reprogram my BMW to use
Android Auto? or “How to hack Android Auto?” continue to flood the
web.

Will BMW ever incorporate Android Auto into 2018 and older models? Highly
unlikely. What we do know is that you don’t have to look for BMW iDrive hacks
or wait for ages till the software makes its way to your favorite car.  Autosvs Android Auto Smartbox is here to
stay, and you can start enjoying it now.

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