With iOS 9, MINI Has All It Needs to Bring CarPlay

For the past 26 years, Apple has held WWDC. This year was no exception and among the number of announcements that were made earlier this week, an update to CarPlay was one of them. As a reminder, CarPlay is a standard developed by Apple to allow devices running iOS to function with built-in display units of automobile dashboards. As of now, CarPlay can only be found in a handful of cars, but iOS 9 might change the deal for the automotive space in general, and MINI in particular.

Thanks to the pending i0S 9 update, CarPlay becomes wireless. It was actually part of the iOS 8.3 update, but Craig Federighi used the keynote address to remind everyone of this feature. We are getting close to day when you won’t have to take anything out of your pocket or bag when entering your car. Keyless entry is becoming a standard feature and soon your smartphone will connect to the infotainment sytem wirelessly.

CarPlay will also become compatible with a variety of screens. That means higher aspect ratios and higher DPI. A welcome addition given the different types of screens found across car brands.

The most important part of the announcement is in regards to opening the platform to automakers. Up until now, CarPlay was just a feature within the larger infotainment environment of the car. For instance, if you wanted to access any car-related controls such as the temperature, you had to get out of CarPlay and then come back in. Not a pleasant user experience to say the least. Now, Apple is allowing automakers to make an app within CarPlay that can control any aspect of the car. In some ways, Apple is changing the rules of the game, something they are really good at doing.

CarPlay’s adoption is far from being meteoric. Car makers are reluctant to hand the keys to their environment to Apple, and there are safety concerns to take into consideration when accessing key features of the car (e.g. tire pressure, oil level). iOS 9 is a potential solution for the latter issue.

Our contacts at MINI repeatedly told us that CarPlay is being investigated but we don’t know if it will ever become available. Since BMW competitors (i.e. Mercedes, VW Group) are adopting the system, it’s safe to say that the BMW Group will get there eventually. After investing so much time and resources developing iDrive and MINI Connected, potentially letting these systems go is a tough pill to swallow.

If we had to guess, we think CarPlay should become available with the F54 Clubman. With the optional all-digital instrument package, it just makes sense. What’s your guess?

  • R.O.

    MINI needs to support multiple platforms, not just Apple. More owners of android phones than apple. Would be good if MINI stopped their exclusive love affair with Apple (that goes for the MF staff too – lol)

    Android Auto!

    • If you want to submit a guest post about Android Auto, we’d consider publishing it!

      • R.O.

        Alex, I’m not an “expert” on Android Auto so I don’t think I would do it justice to summit a guest post. Having said that, here is video from Cnet Car Tech on a review of the Android Auto in the new Sonata (first car in US to get Android Auto).

        Review by Brian Cooley (he’s an excellent reviewer), he does a good job of the review.

        My main point is that Car Mfg, in this case BMW/MINI should/need to support and have both versions for buyers. Example of not doing that is the current MINI Connected app – Android version which is horrible/junk. Go to Google Play Store and see all the negative reviews on MINI Connected. In fact for the Android version, Web radio is not available. No sooner have people download it and installed it, they uninstall it.

        On my joking comment of MF staffers also having a “love affair” with Apple, well those of us who have been visiting MF for a long time know that there is a certain MF staffer who is head over heels for all that is Apple . That’s ok, everyone has their preference.

        Just want to see even coverage and for MINI to fully support both system fully (not limit what one gets vs the other).


        • I agree with the need to support both platforms. I could be wrong but I think the problem is on Android’s side, not MINI’s. If the platform was not so fragmented, it would be much easier for MINI to support Android.

        • R.O.

          Alex, I wasn’t referring to you as having a love affair with all that is apple. It was another MF staffer who’s initials are GB.

        • I bet I’ve owned more Android devices than you RO 😉

        • R.O.

          Gabe, I’m sure you have. 🙂 Being old school I stuck with flip phones for many years lol.

        • Agree it ideally would be agnostic from a platform standpoint. The problem is that if MINI wants to allow for controlling that only one platform supports, they’ll opt for exclusivity for that platform.

        • Devices such as Chromecast are proof that the fragmentation argument is completely bogus when it comes to remote interactions and that “the internet of things” CAN be completely platform agnostic. iOS users (and even Blackberry users) can use Chromecast and and there is evidence that Google may yet take that same approach with Android Auto (currently Android 5.0+ only) and it really comes down to whether Apple will block them at the app store level.

        • You’re missing my point.

        • I’m not, I just think you’re looking at the problem completely backwards.

          My point is that there simply is no good excuse for any “internet of things” platform to not be agnostic since Bluetooth and internet protocols don’t actually care about the OS of the device that is sending requests and receiving responses. However, Apple and Google have decided to take what should have been neutral ground and make it a proprietary war zone where people have to pick a side.

          If one of them wanted to win “the car” as a platform, all they had to do was make thier infotainment system support both via app on each. While there are hints that Google is exploring this approach, there is no way Apple would back down from it’s current closed ecosystem strategy and could always slam the door on iOS support for Android Auto at any moment just as they have with app developers whose app ideas were made part of the core iOS experience.

          I get it, it’s just business, but it sucks for the consumer…

        • Regardless of Apple’s or Google’s approach MINI/BMW has yet to reach a decision regarding either of these platforms. Until they do, the “open” vs. “close” debate is a moot point.

        • There are numerous 3rd party head units where both approaches run along side the manufacturers software and it switches between them as appropriate so the idea that they have to pick one and only one is a false dilemma.

        • Again missing my points. That’s the easy part. The real challenge is to have these systems take over or be aware of every system in the car. The opportunity there is a huge but incredibly complex.

          via mobile

        • Except I didn’t. What you are not understanding is the “provider” concept in the “internet of things” makes that problem completely irrelevant.

          Under this concept the Android and Google platforms don’t actually need to care about the details of the car because that is the job of an app written by the manufacturer for use on the in-car platform. This app then communicates over a closed local network to make all of it’s requests to the provider subsystem (running alongside both platforms on the car) which acts as a broker for instructions and data to-from the components of the car.

          This approach actually makes it easiest for all parties as the in-car platform merely becomes a middle-man. Google and Apple worry about phone interactions and internet data provision, the car manufacture worries about I/O between their apps on the in-car platform and the cars integrated systems.

        • It’s not easy in the eyes of manufacturers when basically every car from every year has different requirements and differing systems. Why do you think Google and Apple have entire divisions trying to work through this mess. And they’re working on the an open future. They don’t even want to think about what you have in your aha the from 2012. Their current offerings are the first baby steps. Now factor into all of this that the automakers already have entire divisions who think they could do it better if unshackled from the shortsighted policies that have been in place for 20 years and you have a pretty complex situation.

        • R.O.

          Outside of the ongoing debate of “agnostic from a platform standpoint” the part that worries me is the statement Gabe wrote: “real challenge is to have these systems take over or be aware of every system in the car.”

          I don’t want any system (be it Android, iOS, Windows, etc) to take over every system in my car. Ahhh No, not just no, but HELL NO.

          I like tech as much as anyone and have been using some form of Tech since the 1970’s but to second what Jeff Goldblum noted in Jurassic Park: (paraphrasing) – “Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.”

        • It’s inevitable.

        • R.O.

          If by you mean inevitable that 100% of all cars on the road will be autonomous driving or system controlling everything in a car, that won’t happen for another 40 or 50 years, despite what some might think. Average years people keep their cars in the US is now 11.5 years. That doesn’t take into consideration the “classic” cars people have and drive.

          For full autonomous driving system to work, only those types of vehicles would have to be allowed on the road. Again, don’t see that happening for at least another 40-50 years. Not in my life time.

        • Kurtster

          Audi already drove a group of journalists from San Francisco to Las Vegas for CES in January. No driver. Just the car doing its thing. There are already safety systems designed to take over braking in extreme cases. Volvo has committed to zero feather or serious injury in Volvo cars by 2020. There will be autonomous vehicle lanes and vehicle-to-vehicle communication within the next 10 years. Full autonomy will be here sooner than you think.

        • In 2011 BMW drove myself and other journalists around Laguna Seca in an autonomous 335i incredibly fast. This is tech that has been coming for many years.

        • R.O.

          “Audi already drove a group of journalists from San Francisco to Las Vegas for CES in January. No driver.”

          Not quite.

          From Tech Times: “However, the A7 is currently limited to only being able to drive itself within highways. As the vehicle enters complex environments, such as within a city, the driver is given several warning signals to take over control of the car for added safety.”

          and from the Telegraph (UK):

          “It can handle motorway driving autonomously, changing lanes, braking and accelerating without any input from humans, up to a limit of 70mph. When it arrives at the edge of a town or city, however, it alerts the driver and requests that he or she take over. If they do not resume control then it indicates, safely pulls over to the side of the road and stops.”

        • Kurtster

          Oh, good there were parts where a human drove. My point was that full autonomy is clearly not 40 years away, but I’m glad you found some details about the milestone.

        • I’m simply referencing the current state of automotive software development. Obviously if everything was open (wouldn’t that be great) there wouldn’t be an issue. However that will not happen for many years.

        • Kurtster

          Tell that to BeeWi, the manufacturers of the first remote controlled MINI Coupe that is controlled via smartphone. They made two versions of their device, one for iOS, one for Android, both use Bluetooth for control. I bought one on eBay and it turns out it only works on Android phones so my iPhone wouldn’t control it using their software designed for my phone to control the car. Apparently, not all Bluetooth devices are created equal.

    • robble

      True they should support both. There may be more android users in general but if you limit users to only mini owners then android’s lead shrinks a lot if not disappearing entirely.

      • R.O.

        Well, in this case MINI, wanting to limit it’s owners to only a single system, i.e. Carplay (Apple) then aren’t they in danger of having sales or buyers shrink for their product? Fewer return customers when other Car Mfg offer choices and few new customers. That’s not a good business model. If they did that, then they might be the one’s disappear entirely.

        • robble

          While things like car play and MINI connected are cool, I think you are putting too much weight on them as make or break a deal items. Most people just want to easily play music from their phones and make phone calls.

          That is already accomplished with the gen 3 MINI. The one basic improvement it could use is bluetooth music streaming without having to get the larger screen.

          I haven’t verified it but I did hear that the newest android operating system broke usb music in any type car. If true that is androids bad.

        • R.O.

          I’m not attempting (or trying too) to put that much importance on either system. In fact, I’m not that big of a fan of any such system, for various reasons.

          You are correct that most people just want to play/listen to music or make phone calls (I’m on the side of the National Safety Council on phone calls – should not be done or allowed when/while operating vehicle even with hands free).

          For me the tech would mainly be NAV via phone or for an MP3 player. I don’t have music on my phone and I don’t make or receive phone calls when I’m operating the vehicle.

          Web radio would be nice. Problem with GEN 3 MINI is MINI USA themselves. My steering wheel has a voice activation button that isn’t functional even though I have Visual boost. Why doesn’t it work, well you have to check the Enhanced Bluetooth option, which is zero cost option when getting VB, but MINI doesn’t tell person that and without EBT, you don’t get Voice Activation. The Dealer Rep neglects to tell you that too.

          I have been going around with MINI USA on this one. I see MINI USA fixed the issue on the updated configurator. Now when you chose the Media Pkg that includes VB, EBT is automatically included. (Since VB is no longer a standalone option).

        • robble

          You make some good points.

          The VB option was deleted for 2016 for precisely the reason you mention. I have a strong feeling that even the motoring advisers did not know about the VB not containing voice activation until the first time it bit them. Media package has always included voice and enhanced bluetooth automatically.

          Streaming nav video from a phone would be an awesome option. Google maps is far superior to the OEM one. It’s also free.

        • R.O.

          Yup. The only thing I would like is the option/choice to delete the Arm rest in the media package. I’m didn’t like it and many pro Auto reviewers don’t care for it either. Plus phone cradle/dock available that can inserted into arm rest is only available for iphones.

          I didn’t get NAV as I have a Gamin that comes with free lifetime map and traffic updates.

  • Stephen Curry

    I won’t buy another vehicle until it features CarPlay. MINI is losing my enthusiasm already and this would be a nail in the coffin.

    • R.O.

      I won’t buy another vehicle until it has all the major and new safety features as standard in the car, i.e. blind spot tech, night vision, crash warning, cross traffic warning, etc.

      People (buyers) not wanting a car (or whatever) because they cant have tech which allows them to twitter, facebook, or use/do whatever other useless tech features or non critical vehicle safety stuff is the problem (especially with some age groups and segments).

      No Carplay, ok then ride public transportation or walk. Operating or driving a vehicle (car, truck, etc) should be about just that, not all the other stuff. That’s why there are so many accidents or near “misses” people too distracted doing other things besides driving (texting, talking on phone, fidling with useless tech)

      • Slow clap…

      • Paul

        So glad that NH, where I live, is at least going hands free next month. I have heard so many people complain about this change and they have no idea that they are part of the problem. I have bluetooth in my current Mini and have used the phone in it when moving maybe twice in 4 years, and was uncomfortable even doing that. It is ridiculous that people cannot either wait until they get where they are going or stop somewhere to handle their business. When did we all become so impatient?

    • robble

      I suspect you are in a small minority. If people can talk on the phone and play music from their phone other stuff like car play is mostly fluff. Cool to have but most wouldn’t pay extra for it as a standalone option on a special order.

      • Stephen Curry

        Apple’s experience in interface design is sorely needed in automobiles.

        Even if all you want to do is the simple things – get directions or play a song, MINI Connected makes it twice as complicated as it needs to be and features become quickly obsoleted as phone makers come out with new equipment.

        The hope of a simple interface that is kept current through software updates is why I am insisting on this in my next car.

        I think, “Siri, play all my Led Zeppelin, shuffled” or “Give me directions to my Mom’s house” is about as simple as electronics can get.

        • robble

          As long as your mini has the voice activation and enhanced bluetooth you can use that to tell Siri commands. Just hold the voice activation button down for a couple seconds and Siri will come out over the radio speakers and then tell her a command. MINI needs to have a smarter “SIRI” on its end badly though.

  • r_k_w

    While other manufacturers embrace CarPlay and Android Auto, BMW/MINI have a strong Not-Invented-Here culture and wish that these systems didn’t exist. They will lag behind other manufacturers in adoption. However, they know that they could be put in a marketing disadvantage, and will be prepared to jump in if the market moves in that direction.

  • RakSiam

    I see this autonomous driving/vehicle systems control notion as being separate from CarPlay or/and Android Auto at this point. What does CarPlay offer that Android Auto does not? Aren’t they both just infotainment/navigation systems? It doesn’t make any sense to focus only on CarPlay when Android has a much bigger market share worldwide. Like it or not these systems are going to just keep getting more important to the buying decisions of many people. If Pioneer can offer both for it’s head unit I don’t quite understand why it’s so difficult for the auto manufacturers to also do it. I think Hyundai has the right attitude about this stuff in realizing that it’s not their area of expertise so they cede it to those who know what they’re doing. (Thanks for the linked video)

    • No one said that MINI intends to only focus only on CarPlay. But I agree with you, if they decide to open Connected to 3rd parties they should do it for both Android and iOS.

      • RakSiam

        I guess it would help if I more thoroughly read your piece in the first place. 🙂 While being able to set the climate controls or whatever could be a useful thing within the same app/interface, I’m not sure it’s critical. But for sure being able to do everything wirelessly would be an enormous benefit. I am a bit surprised that AA requires a wireline connection but I suppose that way it keeps the phone charged while it’s busy being connected to the cell network which can drain a lot of power when you’re doing things like navigation