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BMW Retrofit CarPlay and Android Auto Tutorial

There are a few options available to you if you want to retrofit CarPlay into your BMW. You may have CiC iDrive which was inteoduced in 2007 or you may have NBT “Next Big Thing” iDrive which was introduced in 2012 and has since transitioned through a number of revisions – both in hardware levels and software levels. Many people think of the first NBT iDrive system to be released was “NBT Pro Navigation” with the 8.8in widescreen display.

An example of our IMI-1000 retrofit CarPlay and Android Auto kit installed into a 2015 BMW 5 Series (F10).

However, there were many NBT variants which can all be identified by having a 6 pin LVDS display connector which is the main differentiator between CiC(4 pin) systems and NBT(6 pin), see below the 6 pin NBT display(LVDS) connector;

NBT based iDrive Systems are characterised and identified by their 6 Pin LVDS connectors. The image above shows the display cable that connects the head unit to the central information display (CID).

The different types of NBT iDrive

A list of NBT based iDrive systems are shown below;

HU_ENTRY (6.5in Matt display with plastic front and CIC menu system)

HU_CHAMP2 (6.5in display and CIC menu system)

HU_ENTRYNAV (6.5in glossy display with glass front)

NBT PRO NAVIGATION (8.8in glossy display with glass front)

This article discusses all of the above systems and in particular covers how you can add CarPlay and Android Auto to this OEM hardware without having to change the display (using our IMI-1000 retrofit kit). We also cover OEM upgrade options such as iD6 upgrades which offer OEM CarPlay built into the head unit.

iD6 NBTEVO user interface including OEM CarPlay, this system was installed into a 2012 BMW 3 series which previously have HU_ENTRY without navigation

In 2015, NBTevo iD4, iD5 and iD6 systems we’re introduced and they succeeded the NBT based systems. The display voltage is lower in NBTevo systems meaning an NBT display cannot be directly connected to an NBTevo head unit without a voltage converter. If you wish to upgrade to an iD6 head unit but keep your 8.8in Pro Navigation display we can supply a special voltage converter and provide coding of the head unit to work with the older NBT iDrive display.

NBTevo iD6 head units are able to directly support Apple CarPlay but cannot support Android Auto unless the IMI-1000 is installed as well.

When considering a CarPlay and/or Android Auto retrofit, your iDrive version will primarily determine the most appropriate solution to integrate CarPlay and/or Android Auto.

Note : BMW themselves do not support OEM android auto, if you have an android phone and want to retrofit android auto you need to select our IMI-1000 retrofit kit no matter which version of iDrive you have. By installing the IMI-1000, you will add android auto to your BMW. The IMI-1000 supports all BMW NBT, NBT_EVO iD4, iD5 and iD6 variants from 2012 to 2019.

CiC Systems

There is another IMI-1000 model supporting the legacy CiC iDrive system predating NBT iDrive. See our product pages for more information.

Retrofit CarPlay and Android Auto kit for the BMW X5 E70
Example IMI-1000 retrofit into a BMW E70 with CiC iDrive

Retrofitting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – the options

If you are an Apple user, then there are a number of options available to “activate” or “add” Apple CarPlay to your BMW.

Earlier versions of NBT hardware (generally NBT MY2012-MY2015 cars) will require an “integrated multimedia interface – the IMI-1000” or an NBTEVO iD6 retrofit. Whereas some newer versions (NBTevo MY2016+) will only require software activation.

NBT VariantAndroid Auto upgrade options Apple CarPlay Upgrade options
NBT, HU_ENTRY, CHAMP, ENTRYNAVIMI-1000 retrofit kitIMI-1000 retrofit kit

Genuine iD6 Harman Kardon Head unit including internal GPS receiver modification + LVDS converter cable
NBT EVO iD4IMI-1000[EVO] retrofit kitIMI-1000[EVO] retrofit Kit

Genuine iD6 Harman Kardon retrofit head unit
NBT EVO iD5/6IMI-1000[EVO]Lifetime CarPlay Activation via full firmware flash (NBTevo_g software level)

Lifetime CarPlay Activation via USB stick (NBTevo_h to NBTevo_o software levels)

Lifetime CarPlay Activation via remote coding session (NBTevo_p to NBTevo_u software levels)

As shown in the table above, there is really only one option if you are an android user and would like Android Auto in your BMW – the IMI-1000 retrofit multimedia interface.

Apple users have a number of options including the IMI-1000 as well as various OEM options. We are able to provide retrofit kits for all NBT and NBT_EVO cars.

To add CarPlay to NBT, ENTRY, ENTRYNAV and CHAMP based systems, you can either opt for our IMI-1000 or our iD6 head unit with internal GPS antenna modification.

Above shows the IMI-1000 installed into a 2015 BMW F20 1 Series with NBT ENTRYNAV

If you opt for our NBT->iD6 retrofit kit, you will essentially upgrade your system to that of a 2018 BMW. Our NBT->iD6 solution includes a bespoke modification to the iD6 head unit before it is supplied to our customers whereby we add an internal GPS receiver to the iD6 head unit and enable the GPS receiver using Esys software and firmware flashing of the head unit. This means you do not need to install an ATM and the NBT GPS connector can be connected directly to the rear of the iD6 head unit.

The iD6 retrofit gives you the full OEM experience you would get if you had a 2018 BMW. The above image was from a 2012 BMW 3 Series with an iD6 retrofit.

NBTEVO internal GPS modification

We have developed an internal GPS modification for NBTEVO head units which enables you to install a genuine NBT_EVO iD6 head unit into a vehicle without an ATM, this applies to all NBT systems such as Pro Navigation, ENTRYNAV, ENTRY and CHAMP.

The ATM is used to pass GPS data to the iD6 head unit, but cars pre-dating 2016 do not have an ATM and this no way of obtaining the GPS position for satellite navigation. Thus, the addition of an internal GPS receiver circuit enables a plug and play installation of an NBTEVO iD6 head unit into NBT equipped vehicles dating back to 2012 without the need for an emulator which is messy and expensive. The iD6 head unit is programmed on Integrated Automotive’s test benches in the UK, VIN matched and FSC unlocked for full screen CarPlay and the latest navigation maps.

The iD6 retrofit provides you with an OEM solution and the exact same experience you would have using CarPlay in a 2018 BMW.

If you have an iD4 head unit, you may have read on various Internet forums where people have tried to flash their iD4 head unit with iD6 firmware. Our policy is not to offer this service as flashing an iD4 head unit with iD6 firmware will cause reliability issues with the iD4 head unit due to the fact that iD4 head units only have 2GB of RAM whereas iD5 and iD6 head units have 4GB of RAM. iD5 and iD6 head units are identical as far as hardware is concerned and an iD5 head unit can be flashed with iD6 firmware.

Retrofitting the IMI-1000

If budget is tight or you are an Android user, the IMI-1000 is the perfect solution if you want to add CarPlay or Android Auto to your BMW.

The IMI-1000 is a small media interface which is installed inside the dashboard and connects to the rear of the head unit. It add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability to any CiC, NBT or NBTEVO BMW.

IMI-1000 Retrofit CarPlay and Android Auto Interface
The IMI-1000 Retrofit CarPlay and Android Auto Multimedia Interface

The IMI-1000 is available for CiC and NBT (including all NBT variants) and provides an OEM experience for the driver. When in CarPlay it works exactly the same as an OEM retrofit. You can switch between CarPlay/Android Auto and iDrive by holding the MEMU key for 2 seconds.

The NBT version uses the OEM microphone and the CiC version uses a supplied aftermarket microphone.

Summary

If you would like any further information about our BMW retrofit solutions please do not hesitate to contact us.

No matter which iDrive version you have, we will be able to offer you a retrofit solution whether that be an OEM solution or an Aftermarket solution, equipping your car with CarPlay and/or Android Auto.

If you would like any further information or technical advice please do not hesitate to contact us.