Android Apps NOT Coming Soon to MINIs?

Ever since MINI Connected debuted in 2010 for the iOS, people have been asking about Android. We’ve reported previously that the sheer number of different device types and hardware has made it very difficult to create a unified MINI Connected app for Android devices. Now we have the details.

With the exception of the BMW Android Remote app that will launch before the end of the year there will be no future offerings for the current crop of BMWs or MINIs. That specifically means no support for MINI’s in-car App platform MINI Connected. We learned this hard truth about the number one smartphone operating system from one of the BMW and MINI Connected Drive engineers during a recent trip to the FIZ (R&D center) in Munich.

The reason for this, is that until recently, the Android operating system did not have a standardized protocol for interaction with outside devices. With Android being an “open” system each phone and carrier could have different protocols making it almost impossible for devices to communicate in a similar manner with an outside device. The ability for App designers to create something to communicate with the car would be so truncated and device carrier specific that it would be a never ending battle. The current BMW and MINI radio “head units” were designed prior to this protocol and do not have the ability to be upgraded.

With Android now specifying how devices will communicate with peripherals as part of the OS underlying structure, BMW can design that into future head unit designs. This means that products using the next head unit design (expected in 2013 with the new F56 MINI) can be made fully Android compatible.

BMW is aware that Android has a larger user base than iOS due to the nature of the marketplace. Because of this they have been trying to find a solution for the current vehicles and will continue to work towards a potential solution. However at this time, it’s simply not possible. Mind you, the engineer who told us this was using a Samsung Galaxy SII for this personal device.

  • I use an iPhone so this shouldn’t matter to me, but still I find it annoying. If you’re going to build new features that require a phone, make it compatible with more than one phone.

  • Marcus D

    I think if there are features that only work with the phone, they should include the phone or heavily discount it. Do these features work with the iPod Touch too? If so, maybe they should be including those with the car…

  • Knvalley

    “If you’re going to build new features that require a phone, make it compatible with more than one phone.”

    Easier said then done. X1000.

    Android is a fragmented mess. With (as we see with this story) half-baked parts that simply were not ready for prime time. While Eric Schmidt and company will tout numbers (as if they mean anything, (what percentage of Mini Coopers are out there compared to some Ford Sedan?) people need to understand that a phone is not a phone and that being “compatible with more than one phone.” is fine in theory and much more difficult in practice.

    If I were Mini, and when I had an Android version ready, I would state that it would be only compatible with X specific models as dealing with all the people that BOGO’d androids and bought $49 “droids” and trying to make things work with those phones (some of which can not even be updated by the makers of said phones a few months of shipping) would be more trouble then its worth. 

    • Anonymous

      Nailed it on the head… every phone has a different way of talking to peripherals and every carrier has a different way on top of that= 1000 different ways an “Android” communicates with peripherals. Now that Android has closed that and made it standard with ice cream sandwich or whatever, BMW/ MINI will require that version of the OS to be used and not support anything else. the new generation (newly launched car models) to be introduced in 2013 of BMW/MINI head units will support the new standard for Android. 

  • les

    MINI could offer an Android phone for sale at the dealership that works with the car. In the case that someone simply hates the iPhone. They could pre-load the Andriod with the software needed to make it work with Connected. Its a long work around.  

  • mi9man

    Primarily, I do not know how many phones Apple has sold around the world, but I will say so much that if MINI had sold as many as the Apple iPhone, MINI will be the world’s largest carmaker … Hope it never happens, because then a MINI will not be what it is today (classic or newMINI) I have a MINI Clubman which I ordered with iPod connection (iPod touch 1. gen) in the “secret room” from the factory, and I also have an iPhone connected to the car’s Bluetooth system and it works perfectly. And my Clubman is a little over 3 years now and I thinking to buy Clubman Cooper SD with the MINI Connected 🙂 Know there are a ”few” (not 100% MINI fans) who say they would like the BMW / MINI to support Android, but I also believe that it is never going to happen because the market is too small for that type of customers (those who buy used car and can not retrofit the kind of equipment suited to their “new” phone because of the development progress) and with that I mean BMW and MINI are durabledesign products that not change so often, and Apple and BMW’s products always “talk to each other” while all other manufacturers, for example in the telephone market,, will move their products after development to where the large amounts of customers are, and not where MINI are (the MINI brand is not large enough and thank goodness for that)

    So finally may I also say that I do not quite understand this article, because MINI and Apple are design products that go great together. (unless this was written in a Toyota or Volvo forum for example)

    • Anonymous

      Android is the best selling smartphone operating system by a mile now…. it would make sense for an auto manufacturer to support this customer base. But there are shortfalls with Android that have made that impossible up to this point. It has nothing to do with style or durable brand products. Typical industry redesign from car to car is 7 years, and that is across the board. The first gen MINI was 5 years mainly because of the engine and other government requirements. 

      • JBFromOZ

        total number sold is not the whole picture.. gives a better indication of “current os” rather than fragmented os, so when you say best selling smartphone OS, they are not all the same OS. how many android users have replaced their phone 1 or more times just to :upgrade: to the latest OS

        • I don’t know many iPhone users that have not replaced their iPhone 1 or more times to get better specs/features/OS.  That is why I upgrade my Android device, not for a newer os but for newer hardware, higher resolution, etc. And iPhone 1 can’t go past OS 3.2, iPhone 3g is stuck at 4.3.  Only 3gs and run the latest OS. 

        • Mi9man

          hmmmn! Will say that the iPhone adapts to its surroundings and therefore all the updates, and without all the updates, would technology / adaptation soon be outdated, and also insecure against viruses / attacks. And again the iPhone is a design / lifestyle product as much as MINI and therefore I can not see how different manufacturers with different OS fit in a MINI or for that matter BMW, when the iPhone / iPod / iPad has only one OS (iOS) -and again only ”one” App for ”one” car. Then put it another way, I know no other phones I can configure my computer (Mac /MacBook) and thereby calendar, bookmarks, mail, backup, etc., my iPad (internet sharing) my clients via FTP and web (all over Wi-Fi with 90/90Mbit/s) and then my stereo via iTunes and my TV and the iPod touch via the car radio (which is hidden in the secret room) and is controlled via the steering wheel like the phone is connected to bluetooth and everything this requires at most only 4 numbers in password every time. What it is about, is getting it all to talk together with minimal problems and not technical spec in hardware. higher resolution in the camera (it’s only a smart phone)And I believe that, Apple and MINI shares the same technological philosophy… -also tomorrow ;-)So why make it more difficult?

          @kevin, I do not know anyone who has switched to the iPhone has gone away (including myself with #2 iPhone) and I know many who depend on very fast communication and therefore are highly dependent on products that work every time (and simple)

  • Gary S

    I’ve used the MINI Connected app with an iPad without a data plan and I got plenty of functionality from it.  I don’t really use Facebook and Twitter while driving, and with satellite radio I don’t use web music.  I could play music from the iPad, use Mission Control, Driving Excitement, and Navigation at the same time.  An iPod Touch should also work…

  • Anonymous

    They can avoid these issues by making MINI Connected communicate over WiFi. I hope they will do it for the next generation. There is no reason to require a wired connection.

  • b-

    I do feel somewhat sorry for the Android people who purchased the Connected and can’t use it.  iPhones are great products, if you give it a try you may like them.  I tried an Android handset and I was less impressed than with the iPhone.  It could be worse, Connected could only be compatible with the Windows phone!

    • Volkan

      I know this requires getting another device, but an inexpensive iPod Touch could be an option here, instead of not touching a $2K “option”.

      • b-

        There you go! The twitter and junk is all just fluff anyway.

  • Theantitheist

    Screw you BMW and mini! I got roped into this waste of money big time. Mini connected,nav and Bluetooth absolutely suck in my 2011 MCS. I wish I could go back in time.