Confirmed: Apple CarPlay is Coming to the MINI Countryman in 2017

Over a year ago we told you that MINI was working behind the scenes to bring Apple CarPlay to market. Now we can confirm the timing. According to sources familiar with MINIs’ plans, Apple CarPlay will be available on the F60 MINI Countryman beginning with July 2017 production. This option (yup, it’ll be an option) will only be available with MINI’s new touchscreen navigation (OE 609). The standard 6.5″ iDrive system in the Countryman will not be available with CarPlay.

Additionally sources are telling us that the option will not be retrofittable to any models prior to that build date (Countryman or not).

CarPlay for the Rest of the MINI Range

We expect MINI to roll-out CarPlay to other models in conjunction with the inclusion of the new touchscreen navigation. That should begin around the same time and in conjunction with the MINI hatch mid-cycle refresh (LCI). This means we should see optional CarPlay integration in all MINIs by the end of 2017.

CarPlay/MINI Operation

Operating CarPlay will be fairly straightforward as it’s wireless and only dependent on Bluetooth. Once your iPhone is paired, simply go to MINI Connected and choose Apple CarPlay. CarPlay mimics the general experience of using an iOS device. This allows you to access your iPhone’s content such as music, messages, calls, navigation and CarPlay ready apps.

Why Did MINI Take So Long?

While some would consider MINI late to the party, it’s not unusual for MINI’s parent company to be a bit more conservative with integrating consumer technology into its cars. That said the last 12 months has been painful for some would be MINI customers. Consumers want connected cars that work as simply and effectively as their smart phones and tablets (you only need to read MF comments for evidence). Yet MINI has been stifled by long product cycles and engineering processes that aren’t what you’d consider agile.

Why are MINI and BMW late to the party? Given our conversations with MINI and BMW engineers over the past few years it’s clear to us that MINI and BMW have taken a wait and see approach with the technology integration. But it’s not due to BMW being caught off-guard. While it’s true that Apple has often been very late to notify its partners about car related technology (Siri integration being a good example), our sources have told us us that Apple worked directly with automotive partners ahead of the CarPlay debut 18 moths ago.

What About Android Auto?

What about Android Auto? Apple’s approach (working directly with automakers), consistent hardware performance, technical requirements and an install base more consistent with MINI owners reportedly made CarPlay much more attractive as an initial release. However sources assure as that MINI is testing Android Auto connectivity for a future release.

Does this mean MINI Connected is dead? In a word no. It’s functionality has become more limited in part because MINI knew CarPay integration is coming soon. But MINI will be keeping MINI Connected around as an alternative system for owners who don’t have phones that support CarPlay.

  • Jay

    CarPlay doesn’t work over bluetooth. (Bandwidth requirements for driving the screen are too high.) In most cars today, CarPlay requires a wired connection. iOS supports wireless CarPlay, but (as far as I know) only one BMW model (5 series, I think) of production car ships with wireless CarPlay support.

    So, does the new Countryman use a wired connection or does the new infotainment unit have wifi support (and with it Wireless CarPlay) like it’s BMW sibling?

    • Brian

      The new Countryman will use the same mechanism that BMW is using.

    • As we mention in the article we’ve confirmed that the MINI Countryman will support wireless CarPlay via Bluetooth.

  • Kurtster

    I figured it wouldn’t be retrofittable. I wish there was a way to replace the R56 MINI Connected system with the newer one. I’m so disappointed with that aspect of my Coupe and wish I could get CarPlay.

  • Ari the Lion

    This is extremely disappointing. Volkswagen has offered CarPlay and Android Auto for a few years now. Mini should have had this before stodgy BMW.

  • Filippo Rossano

    No hope for non-touch navi pro in the 2-doors models?

    • It’s coming with the LCI

      • Filippo Rossano

        Yes i know it but for the older one? I’ve seen on the bmw site that you can purchase the carplay upgrade, is possible an upgrade for the older version of the navi pro or the touch functionality is an obligation for carplay (and android auto)?

        • No are no plans to offer the ability to upgrade on either BMWs and MINI to the new system. The backend systems are completely different.

  • The Mann

    I think that will be problematic, You eyes need to focus on screen, you don´t have to focus on screen on the normal control. touch screen with Small buttoms is not good for driving, but very good then the car is stand still in car show room.. and it look like the menu on top is very small and need focus to hit the small icon. and that take focus from driving the car.