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.
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.