Android phones and BMWs are two of my favorite things. Except BMW has been on my shit list lately thanks to forgetting what steering feel is, and being one of the last car companies to add Android Auto to its cars’ infotainment screens. Oh, and their cars break. But mine hasn’t! (lately)

Hot on the heels of announcing that they will do away with their idiotic cash grab scheme of charging a fucking subscription to keep your car’s Apple CarPlay activated, even though no other car company tries to pull that shit, BMW put out a press release today saying they’re adding Android Auto to their cars. It’s a bit short on details. But there are some key points.

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Starting in July 2020, all BMWs with infotainment systems running BMW OS 7.0 will ship from the factory with Android Auto.

Android Auto will be integrated into both the center dash infotainment screen and in the gauge cluster, plus heads-up display on cars equipped with the HUD.

BMW, despite being one of the last car companies to support Android Auto, is the first car company to support wireless Android Auto. So far that feature has only been available on aftermarket headunits. Not all Android phones support wireless Android Auto, but here’s a list.

The one wrinkle here is the press release doesn’t mention a wired connection at all. It’s unclear if there will be USB support in addition to wireless. I sure hope so, since the wireless Android Auto phone list is a short one. Those aftermarket headunits with wireless Android Auto also support a USB connection. We shall see.

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Cars running BMW OS 7.0 that did not ship with Android Auto support will receive Android Auto through an OTA update, no visit to the dealer needed. The exact timing of this is fuzzy but supposedly it’ll happen close to that same July 2020 date.

Here’s my crack at a list of cars running BMW OS 7.0, scouring assorted forum posts and wikipedia pages and whatnot that I don’t feel like linking to.

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  • 2019-up G20 3-Series with Live Cockpit Professional (10.25" center control display + all-screen gauge cluster)
  • 2020-up G30 LCI 5-Series
  • 2020-up G32 6-Series (I haven’t confirmed this but since it shares most of its interior with the G30 5-series this would stand to reason, but now I’ve learned that the 6 GT is gone from the US as of this past summer. I guess that news came and went without my noticing.)
  • 2020-up G11/G12 LCI 7-Series
  • 2019-up G14/G15/G16 8-Series
  • 2020-up G01 X3 with Live Cockpit Professional
  • 2020-up G02 X4 with Live Cockpit Professional
  • 2019-up G05 X5
  • 2020-up G06 X6
  • 2019-up G07 X7
  • 2019-up G29 Z4

I’m guessing that Toyota Supra owners are out of luck, because when it launched, I remember multiple articles specifically mentioning that unlike the Z4, the Supra uses an older version of iDrive/BMW OS (probably 6), because Toyota prefers older technology “for reliability.”

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No word on when this will trickle down to the various longitudinal-engine cars, i.e. Mini, X1, X2, 2 GC, etc.

Welcome to the motherfucking party, BMW. Here’s hoping you just forgot to mention that USB support.

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UPDATE: Android Police reports that they reached out to BMW about wired Android Auto support and BMW responded that there is no support for wired Android Auto. So basically, until wireless Android Auto becomes more widespread, you need a Pixel, or a Galaxy S/Note that’s an 8 or newer.

Not content with this news, I decided to look into any ways to get other phones to work with wireless Android Auto. I found this XDA post that shows how you might be able to kludge it together. It requires Android 9 Pie or higher, and this post suggests you need to be on the latest beta of Google Play Services, not the regular version.

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  1. On many phones, Google now hides the Android Auto app icon, so to get into the Android Auto app settings, you have to go to your phones settings menu, then view all your apps, pick Android Auto from the list, then scroll to the bottom where it says ‘additional settings in the app.’
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the Android Auto settings, and tap 10 times on the version number at the bottom to enable developer settings. A little message will pop up on the screen saying you’ve successfully enabled them.
  3. Hit the 3-dot menu in the top right and then select developer settings.
  4. In developer settings, check the box for ‘add wireless projection to settings.’
  5. Go back to the main Android Auto settings and then turn on the ‘enable wireless projection’ setting that has now appeared.
  6. Reboot your phone and follow the headunit’s wireless pairing setup.

I followed this process on my Essential PH-1 and was able to at least access all these settings, but I don’t want to install a Google Play Services beta on my phone and don’t have access to a wireless Android Auto car or headunit anyway. Maybe I’ll try to go play with one at Best Buy or something and see if I’m able to get it to work without that Play Services beta.

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I blame both Google and BMW for this. Google created the mess by only officially supporting wireless Android Auto on a very small list of phones. Seems like if it can be enabled on most phones with this bunch of hoop-jumping, it should be able to be supported by default. But BMW is just as much at fault for looking at the list of officially-supported wireless Android Auto phones and saying, “yup, we’re good with these.”

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