As mentioned in the other Android thread, I recently ordered one of the new units that only has CarPlay and Android Auto, without an Android OS. As it’s a different system, I thought it would be best to create a new thread.
I bought it from Andream, this is one of the units that replaces your screen, rather than using the original one. The benefits of this are a higher resolution display, and also touch capability. It cost around £240, with free delivery and no import tax. This makes it significantly cheaper than buying the Android unit plus a CarPlay adapter. It took 6 days to arrive, which I was happy with having heard stories about other suppliers claiming to be in the UK but still shipping from China!
When I opened the box, I was immediately impressed with the build quality. It’s heavy, the moulded plastic is a good match for the OEM unit, and the screen has a nice solid glass feel to it. I was expecting it to look and feel cheap, but it doesn’t. My only gripe is that no fitting or user instructions were included, Andream send you a link to a video which is good enough, but not very professional.
Before installing the unit, the first thing I did was fit an anti-glare screen protector, as I have seen videos of other Android units and the screens looked very reflective. I bought a matte ‘anti-glare’ tablet screen protector from eBay for £2, and cut it down to size. I put this on before fitting the unit as I thought it would be a nightmare to fit afterwards. It makes a huge difference, the screen now has a nice matte finish like the OEM one rather than looking like a mirror, I highly recommend this to anyone with an Android unit that is unhappy with the glare.
Installation was pretty straight forward, it took me just under an hour. Unfortunately I forgot to take any photos! I found it quite difficult to get the stereo trim off, it was really tight and I was worried it would break. The CCC ‘head unit’ doesn’t come fully out without putting the autobox in Drive (got to love how BMW make everything unneccassarily difficult.) You then have to remove the MOST cables from the original loom and move them to the same spot on the new one, I assume so you don’t lose your CD changer. Also there is not much room to thread the video cable up to where the screen sits, so it took me a while to find a suitable route. But it was easy enough to follow the ‘official’ Andream installation video. I intend to use mine wirelessly mostly, but it comes with a USB cable for wired CarPlay so I routed that to the glove box in case I ever want use it (eg a really long journey that would drain the phone battery.)
Once all plugged in, I turned it on to test it before putting everything back together, and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it booted up, taking just a few seconds while showing a nice ‘BMW Connected Drive’ splash screen, which I believe is stolen from CIC/NBT. At first it showed the old iDrive screen, like all these units the audio comes from AUX (which you need to have coded already) so I selected that. Then holding the menu button for 3 seconds took me to the initial setup screen where you can choose between CarPlay, Android Auto, or settings. I selected Wireless CarPlay, followed the onscreen instructions, then my phone prompted me to allow CarPlay, and it was connected. It was very straight forward, and because it basically mirrors your phone, it’s ready to use!
First impressions were really good, the screen looks great, especially with the screen protector on. I was worried about the sound level and quality but it’s not bad at all, a little quieter than the factory stereo but not as quiet as the original AUX in. I won’t go in to loads of detail about CarPlay because there is loads of info about it online and it’s almost the same on every system, but in summary I now have Google Maps and Waze for navigation, my music and podcasts from my phone with album art, DAB via the TuneIn app, I can make calls and send messages using Siri without having to take my eyes off the road, and should I ever need to use the iDrive software, a 3 second push of the menu button brings it back. I was also slightly worried that the screen would be too far away for the touchscreen to be any use, but it’s not too bad and I won’t need to use it much anyway.
The settings allow you to change things like volume, CCC type (6” or 8” screen), reverse camera etc. But I left everything as default, and haven’t needed to change anything yet.
There are a couple of issues I have noticed so far. Firstly, although I can control CarPlay with the iDrive controller and steering wheel volume buttons, the forward/back buttons do not work, despite the Andream website saying they should. I’ve tried playing with a few settings, but nothing has got them working. It’s not the end of the world though as the CarPlay ‘dashboard’ has large next/previous track buttons on the screen. Also I have noticed that when using it wirelessly, the music sometimes skips or stutters. I Googled this issue and lots of people are reporting it, it seems to be an issue with iOS 13 rather than the CarPlay unit. Hopefully a future software update will fix it, and it seems to do it less often with a wired connection. Finally on the dashboard you cannot set the map to Google Maps, it is Apple Maps, but apparently that’s Google’s fault for not enabling it, not Apple.
Overall I’m really happy with it and would highly recommend to anyone with an iPhone (I’m sure it works well with Android Auto as well, but I don’t have a phone to test to with.) It’s exactly what I wanted at a price I’m happy with, and makes the car feel ten years newer. Hopefully future software updates on both the unit and iOS sort out the few niggles I mentioned above. Here are some photos that show some of the apps and main screens, plus hopefully you can see how the screen protector gives it a matte finish rather than being reflective.