starting with MY 2018 BMW offers Apple CarPlay as an option in the i3. I have a 2014 model, so no bueno here, but I really like CarPlay in my other car (yes, I'm an Apple fanboy), so I was looking for other options.
I found a module called "CarPlay MMI" on the bimmer-tech website. I bought it and installed it a week ago and I though I'd share with the community.
Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with bimmer-tech, I'm just a very happy customer.
The bimmer-tech solution is a small box (maybe the size of a normal letter) which goes in-between the head-unit and the display.
The package contains: the box: a (long) wiring harness, a USB cable, a video cable and a Y-cable for the microphone that I didn't need.
So how does it work?
You keep all the functionality of your existing center display, the CarPlay functionality is simply an additional option that you can select by pressing button 8.
The product comes with a manual which unfortunately describes some (unnecessary) steps in great detail but could be more detailed in other steps, but you'll figure it out
In order to install it you need to remove (and later replace)
- rear seat
- several trim pieces along the passenger door sill
- the right air vent
- glove box
- center display
The whole installation took me 3 - 4 hours, so give yourself enough time. It's maybe a 3 or 4 on a 1-10 difficulty level.
You have to be comfortable to take off and replace trim pieces, you really have to use some force on some of them to get them off.
- you get full CarPlay functionality (Siri, Apple/Google maps, Waze, Spotify, etc you name it)
- you still use the built in microphone of your i3
- you operate CarPlay with the iDrive wheel, also the volume buttons on the steering wheel work, the little scroll wheel does not work
- even though bimmer-tech is in Europe, their support guys are very responsive, so thumbs up here
- it charges your iPhone
- it's (kind-a) expensive (I paid $475 after rebates)
- you can no longer listen to (FM or XM) radio when CarPlay is on, but of course you can go out of CarPlay for that
- for some reason the CarPlay display is a little yellowish (I have no idea how to attach a picture)
- you need to un-pair your phone from your i3's bluetooth, otherwise phone calls won't work
- yes, if you have a rear view camera and after the car goes into reverse and then the camera turns off again, you come back into the normal BMW screen and have to push the 8 button to get back into CarPlay (the guys from bimmer-tech are working on a fix)
- For wide displays (they support both wide and narrow displays), it doesn't use the full display, but that's exactly the same that the OEM BMW CarPlay does
- Since the i3 doesn't have a touch screen you navigate CarPlay with the iDrive wheel. I found that easier to do than to operate the touchscreen on my other car which is literally hit or miss
Is it worth it? For me absolutely. I live in my iPhone and I can now use the full functionality of the phone without having to touch it or looking on the screen.