Some news will make you scratch your head so feverishly that you’ll probably end up with gray matter under your nails. BMW’s decision to turn Apple CarPlay into an annual subscription is certainly one of those. Most automakers give it out for free, but not BMW. That would be too easy.
At the 2018 Detroit Auto Show, BMW North America’s tech product manager told The Verge that the automaker plans to shift Apple CarPlay infotainment support from a one-time fee to a subscription service.
The shift should take place next year, and it will cost Bimmer buyers £60 per year to keep CarPlay active on their vehicle, although it’s free for the first year of ownership.
BMW is a rare company in that it seems to have absolutely no interest in offering Apple CarPlay to potential owners as a way to entice them into dealerships. Automakers from the bargain-basement level all the way to the penthouse offer this smartphone-mirroring tech as standard, but BMW currently charges £215 to add it to the car, because reasons.
Yet, strangely enough, it was one of the first automakers to offer wireless CarPlay in the latest-generation 5 Series. It’s confounding.
BMW told The Verge that its reasoning is simple, and by “simple” I mean “only loosely connected to reality.” Basically, if you bought an iPhone and eventually wanted an Android, you’d have a useless (albeit entirely invisible) piece of tech in the car. Instead of having fronted £215 for CarPlay, you can instead spend £60 or £115 or whatever for however long you need the service. That appears to be BMW’s entire line of logic behind this decision.
I’m not going to sit here and lecture you on finances, but if that £100 is breaking the bank after you picked up your brand-new BMW and also intend on switching from one new phone to another, perhaps a priority shuffle is in order. Thankfully, Android owners don’t have to worry about subscription plans or silly up-front costs, because BMW doesn’t support Android Auto whatsoever.
If you’re unfamiliar with the system, Apple CarPlay allows iPhone users to bring the iOS experience to a car’s dashboard. Syncing with the car’s infotainment system allows limited app access through the car’s system, using its voice recognition system and control methods. It’s a small sandbox, generally limited to Apple apps and select third-party audio and news apps, but it’s important in the sense that it gives users one less reason to actually pick up and use a phone while driving.