BMW i3 supports Apple CarPlay that lets you access your iPhone apps like iTunes, Google Maps, Waze and Spotify through the touch-screen of your vehicle. You can also make phone calls, send messages or use navigation with voice commands using Siri.
Enable CarPlay and Siri on iPhone
You must have iPhone 5 or newer device with iOS 9 or newer version to use wireless Apple CarPlay on BMW i3. Before you begin, ensure CarPlay and Siri are enabled on your iPhone. Also, make sure that the “Press Home for Siri” option is enabled under “Siri & Search” in settings.
If you can’t see CarPlay or Siri & Search under your iPhone settings, then go to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Allowed Apps, and make sure both CarPlay and Siri & Search are enabled.
Enable CarPlay in i3
CarPlay must be enabled in your i3’s infotainment system settings before you can use it. This can be done by selecting Communication, then Mobile Devices, then Settings, and make sure Apple CarPlay option is enabled. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi must be enabled as well.
Wireless CarPlay on BMW i3
- Activate Bluetooth and Wifi on your iPhone.
- Go to the Communication menu in your i3’s infotainment system.
- Then select Mobile Devices.
- Then select New Device.
- Select Phone calls and audio via Bluetooth or Apple CarPlay.
- After a few seconds your phone name will appear on i3’s screen, select it.
- A Bluetooth Pairing Request prompt will appear on your iPhone with a pin-code. Touch Pair.
- Then touch Allow on Allow Contacts and Favorites Sync prompt if you want to download your phone contacts to the vehicle’s infotainment system.
- After a few seconds a prompt will automatically appear on your iPhone: “Use CarPlay with BMW?”. Touch Use CarPlay.
- Select Confirm note and connect to Apple CarPlay in your i3.
- Now select your phone name under Mobile Devices > Connected Devices.
- Select Connection Mode and then Apple CarPlay.
- Apple CarPlay icon will now appear on the home screen of your i3’s infotainment system, press it to launch CarPlay.
You can go back to default infotainment system display on i3 by selecting BMW icon in CarPlay.
CarPlay not working on BMW i3
If Apple CarPlay option does not appear your i3’s infotainment system when you connect your iPhone to your vehicle, it can be due to a number of reasons:
- CarPlay is disabled in the infotainment system settings of your i3.
- CarPlay is disabled in your iPhone, go to ‘Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Allowed Apps’ and enable both CarPlay and Siri.
- Wifi or Bluetooth is disabled on your iPhone, make sure both of them are enabled.
- You’re trying to connect with Lightning-to-USB cable. BMW i3 does not support CarPlay via USB connection. Only wireless Apple CarPlay via Bluetooth connection is available.
- A software glitch is responsible for the CarPlay problem. You can try re-pairing your iPhone after deleting your iPhone in the vehicle and vice versa. You can also try resetting the i3’s infotainment system and/or your iPhone to its factory settings.
- You’ve an older model of i3 that does not support Apple CarPlay. Only 2018 and later model year BMW i3 vehicles are compatible with CarPlay.
Using Siri on BMW i3
Siri is Apple’s voice recognition feature that helps you to concentrate on the road while driving your i3 as you can control the functions of the iPhone with voice commands.
The virtual assistant allows you to place phone calls, listen to and send text messages, play music on your iPhone, get directions and use other functions of your iPhone hands-free. You can even ask Siri for current weather conditions, stock prices or upcoming events on your calendar.
To access Siri, press and hold the talk button on the steering wheel of your i3 until you hear Siri tone.
You can also access Siri by holding down the home button located at the bottom left corner in the CarPlay app.
If the Listen for “Hey Siri” function is enabled in your iPhone device under Siri & Search settings, you can also just simply say: “Hey Siri”. After hearing the audible alert, you can begin asking Siri for assistance.
For best results when using Siri, speak clearly and reduce background noise by closing the windows and moonroof. Also, direct the air vents on dashboard so that they are not pointing towards the vehicle’s microphone.
Which i3 models support CarPlay?
2018 and later model year BMW i3 vehicles are compatible with wireless Apple CarPlay.
Using Google Maps on BMW i3 with CarPlay
If your iPhone has iOS 14+ operating system, you can freely use Google Maps in Apple CarPlay on your i3. Apple now allows the use of Google Maps in the home screen. Apple has allowed the competitor’s map service in its car application since iOS 12, but the homescreen that was newly introduced in iOS 13 in 2019 could not yet be equipped with maps. Here, users were still limited to Apple’s own map service. With iOS 14 that changes. Now CarPlay automatically selects the last service used for the view.
Using Waze navigation on BMW i3 with CarPlay
You can use Waze navigation app in CarPlay if you have iOS 12 or higher operating system installed on your iPhone. Download and install Waze app from App Store on your iPhone, then start CarPlay on your i3’s infotainment system display. Then touch Waze icon to launch the app.
Using Spotify on i3
You can use Spotify to stream music on your i3. Just install the Spotify app from App Store and its icon will appear in the infotainment display when CarPlay is active.
You can use voice commands to play music hands-free on Spotify with Siri. Just add “on Spotify” at the end so that Siri knows which service you’re referring to (e.g. “Hey, Siri, play my ‘Your Mix of the Week’ playlist on Spotify”).
Siri can play songs, artists, albums, playlists, podcasts, and more. You can also “like” music, ask what’s playing, and control playback (e.g. volume, skip song, play / pause).
Do not disturb while driving
When driving, keep your eyes on the road. A quick look at the navigation device is of course allowed in order not to miss the next junction. The “Do not disturb while driving” function can be activated so that your iPhone does not distract you with unnecessary notifications while driving your i3. iOS 13 extends this option to CarPlay as well. On your iPhone go to Settings > Do Not Disturb, then scroll down and touch “Activate” under “Do not disturb while driving”.
Not all apps are compatible with CarPlay
If you think you can use all your iPhone apps in your BMW i3 with CarPlay, then you’re wrong. The selection of compatible applications is limited, and you have to live with restrictions, especially with messenger apps. iMessage and WhatsApp can be controlled almost exclusively via Siri. That means you cannot see your message history, but only have new messages read out to you or even dictate messages yourself.
The following apps can be used with CarPlay on your i3, among others: Music, Phone, News, Podcasts, Audio books, Audible, Google Maps, Sygic TomTomGO, Whatsapp, calendar, Settings, Telegram, Waze, Spotify, TuneIn, Tidal, Pandora, Youtube Music and Amazon Music.
Sort apps in CarPlay
You can sort CarPlay apps in your i3 quickly and easily through your iPhone. To do this, go to Settings > General > CarPlay, then select your vehicle under “MY CARS”. On the next screen you can rearrange app icons by touching and dragging them. You can also hide icons by touching the minus button on them.