How to set up Apple CarPlay step-by-step?

bmw apple carplay


  • How do I know if my BMW has Apple CarPlay? Why is Apple CarPlay not available on my BMW?
  • How to set up Apple CarPlay?
  • BMW CarPlay not working Hard reset your iPhone and iDrive Check CarPlay pairing Check WiFi antenna Use another iPhone Upgrade CarPlay from ConnectedDrive
  • How to get Apple CarPlay on BMW – pre-2016 production? How to enable BMW CarPlay retrofit?

So you just got your brand new 2022 BMW M3 and want to do a CarPlay setup on it, is that right?

Hang on, or perhaps you’re the owner of a 2010 BMW X5 trying to add Apple’s hub into your older CIC iDrive system…?

Either way, we’ll show you how to set up Apple CarPlay on your BMW whether it’s already available for your model from the factory or has to be installed as a retrofit kit.

How do I know if my BMW has Apple CarPlay?

First CarPlay setup rule, make sure your BMW has Apple CarPlay available as an option to activate.

If your car is a post-2016 production with an NBT Evo ID5/6 or MGU iDrive system and a WiFi antenna, there’s a good chance it’s already fitted with the CarPlay Preparation option (S6CPA) ready to be unlocked with simple 15-minute coding. See how this process would look in a BMW 7 Series G11/G12:

The presence of a WiFi antenna is key for activation, as the entire multimedia hub takes the data plan from your iPhone straight through WiFi. If you’re lacking it, you’ll have to add the antenna to your BMW. Enter your VIN here to check if BMW Apple CarPlay activation is an option for you and whether you’ll need a WiFi antenna.

Why is Apple CarPlay not available on my BMW?
Now, what if you meet all the conditions but the CarPlay setup is still not possible on your BMW?

It might be a software issue on either your iPhone or your BMW iDrive system. CarPlay setup requires running the latest software versions on both your iOS device (??iOS 9.3 or higher) and your car’s infotainment system, so before you even come close to connecting CarPlay make sure your ConnectedDrive software is updated.

How to set up Apple CarPlay?

If you can safely say you’ve checked off all the boxes and BMW Apple CarPlay is already activated in your iDrive, you can now proceed to the iPhone/CarPlay setup. Here’s how it looks on iDrive 7.0.

  1. First, make sure Bluetooth, WiFi, and Siri toggle buttons are switched on in the Settings of your iPhone.
  2. Then, head on over to your iDrive screen and go through the route: COM > Mobile Devices > Settings to check the Bluetooth, WiFi, and Apple CarPlay boxes.
  3. Once the connection is enabled go to New Device > Phone calls and audio.
  4. Get back to your iPhone, enter Settings > General > CarPlay, and select your BMW PIN from the menu.
  5. Your iPhone will now begin pairing with your BMW, so you’ll be prompted to confirm the PIN, Bluetooth, and other pairing requests on your mobile device and the iDrive screen.
  6. Lastly, on your iDrive screen choose the option to connect to Apple CarPlay and your CarPlay setup will be complete.

Now that you’re all done, you can freely use some of the best BMW CarPlay apps through your iDrive display and test out how to easily control them. Give Siri the first shot to check if the voice recognition capabilities are all set up correctly. To do so, just press the microphone button on your steering wheel and ask Siri a question. You should receive a response within seconds.

Enabling BMW Apple CarPlay this way will be a one-time procedure. Next time you start the car, your iPhone will connect to CarPlay automatically.

BMW CarPlay Not Working

If it happens your BMW Apple CarPlay suddenly stops working, there is a process of checking what might have caused the issue. At times is just as basic as adjusting your WiFi antenna, in other cases, an entire re-activating might be necessary.

Hard reset iPhone and iDrive
First, try to reactivate your BWW Apple CarPlay by a hard reset of your iPhone and your iDrive system. To hard reset your iDrive system press and hold the volume button for around 15-30 seconds until the screen goes blank. It will start up again after a few seconds.

To hard reset your phone, depending on its generation, you can either:

  • Press the ‘Volume up button, press the ‘Volume down button, and hold the ‘Wake’ button for a few seconds


  • hold the ‘Wake’ button along with the ‘Home’ button together until the screen goes blank.

Once the two are back and running again, try pairing your phone to your iDrive system and enable BMW Apple CarPlay one more time according to the above steps.

Check CarPlay pairing
If you still have no luck, perhaps you should ensure you paired CarPlay properly with your iPhone. Sometimes it may happen that your phone will connect by default to another device instead of your car’s Bluetooth. In that case, re-pair the two properly.

Check WiFi antenna
Didn’t help either. Test out whether your WiFi antenna is set up properly by putting your phone against your iDrive console – as close as possible to the head unit. If it catches a signal and you see your CarPlay in the iDrive settings without the possibility to reconnect it, it means the antenna is not aligned or plugged in correctly and needs to be physically adjusted toward the middle of the car.

Use another iPhone
In case that doesn’t make things better try out pairing a different iPhone. At times it’s not the iDrive that causes the issues.

Upgrade CarPlay from ConnectedDrive
Another scenario is to look up if you still have an active Apple CarPlay subscription – it may have been erased by a head unit upgrade. In such a case, go to your ConnectedDrive store in your iDrive menu and follow the necessary steps.

How to get Apple CarPlay on BMW?

bmw apple carplay

Not all cars will be capable of CarPlay activation though.

As you’re probably aware, BMWs produced before 2016 with older generation head units such as the CIC iDrive system, CHAMP or NBT were left out of running the native CarPlay interface… which would be a sad reality if it wasn’t for the aftermarket solutions such as CarPlay MMI Prime.

Enter your VIN here to check if you’re compatible with the BMW CarPlay retrofit.

Thanks to the BMW CarPlay retrofit, even 2008 BMW drivers can enjoy a wireless CarPlay feature that perfectly integrates with the native iDrive display, controller, car stereo, and steering wheel buttons (in selected vehicles only) to make the app using just as intuitive an in the OEM Apple CarPlay version. In fact, the additional Android Auto functionality augmenting the upgrade makes it even more flexible for Android smartphone users to control their Play Store apps straight from the iDrive screen.

The installation part shouldn’t be tricky either, as the upgrade is fully plugged & played and doesn’t require any permanent BMW modifications. Sparing 2 – 4 hours is all it takes to have CarPlay up and running without hurrying to a nearby car shop.

The process revolves around disassembling the upper and lower trim and the faceplate on your dash, pulling the head unit out, connecting it to the Wireless CarPlay Smartbox using the supplied harness, and plugging the new cable from the Wireless CarPlay Smartbox into the screen. You’ll get precise PDF instructions, videos, and dedicated technical support after the purchase to guide you through the whole project if you decide to DIY.

More on the installation process of the BMW CarPlay retrofit and other popular DIY BMW upgrades, in this article.

How to enable BMW CarPlay retrofit?
Got your MMI in? Now you’ve got to enable the connection between your iPhone, just as you do with the OEM Apple CarPlay.

  1. On your phone go to Settings>General>CarPlay, within this menu you may find either CarPlay Wireless Smartbox or Wireless CarPlay Smartbox, go ahead and forget those devices.
  2. Next, go to the Wireless CarPlay Smartbox Settings>Connections>Reset All Connections – the Wireless CarPlay Smartbox should reboot.
  3. With everything removed grab a USB cable, make sure WiFi and Bluetooth are on your phone, and connect the USB cable to your phone and the Wireless CarPlay Smartbox USB port.
  4. Accept every prompt that comes up on the screen. Once you have the CarPlay on the iDrive screen give it around 10 seconds and unplug the USB cable.
  5. Next on your iPhone go to Settings>Bluetooth and click on Wireless CarPlay Smartbox/CarPlay Wireless CarPlay Smartbox to connect. Once it connects, CarPlay will appear on the screen and the Bluetooth will disconnect.

From this time on, CarPlay will be available wirelessly and will connect automatically the next time you enter the car. If at any point you encounter any BMW CarPlay / iPhone pairing issues, check your phone:

  • is not connected to any other device,
  • has the hotspot option turned off,
  • is not automatically connecting to any other device,
  • is not connected to the OEM BMW Bluetooth.

Or contact our Autosvs support team. They’ll assist you with any problems you might have.

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