BMW Actually Wants You To Subscribe to CarPlay

Buy a new Chevy Cruze and you’re going to get support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Whether you want it or not. There’s no way to opt out of the MyLink infotainment system, and both CarPlay and Android Auto are standard features.

Chevrolet aren’t alone, of course. Ford’s latest SYNC system includes CarPlay and Android Auto support, as does Chrysler’s Uconnect.

BMW, on the other hand, has relegated CarPlay to being a $300 option on its latest vehicles, not a standard feature. And the less said about the absolute absence of Android Auto, the better.

A cynic would say that BMW is asking people to pay for something that should—at least based on what everybody else is doing—be standard. The more optimistic angle would be that you pay for standard features anyway, and at least people who don’t use iPhones aren’t being forced to cough up extra for a standard feature that they aren’t going to use.

However you decide to look at it, you might need to change your mind, because things won’t be like this for much longer. No, BMW won’t be adding CarPlay as a standard feature. Instead, they’ll be replacing the upfront cost with an annual subscription service.

Apparently, CarPlay will be free to use for the first year, and after that it will cost $80 a year to renew. BMW are saying that means savings over a three or four year lease, but of course if you’re going to hold onto your car for longer, it’s a different story.

To some extent, a CarPlay subscription service makes more sense than an upfront cost (if we assume that the whole idea of having CarPlay as a non-standard option makes sense). Even though the battle lines are pretty clearly drawn, people do switch between iOS and Android devices. Having to guess what phones you’re likely to own over the next few years when picking options for your car is more hassle than it’s worth, and having the option to start or stop a subscription based on your circumstances is a nice touch.

But none of that matters, because it doesn’t make sense not to offer CarPlay and Android Auto support as standard features in 2018. Opening up the iOS and Android app ecosystem—whether that’s Google Maps, Stitcher, WhatsApp or Apple Music—is so obviously going to give a much better in-car experience.

Come on, BMW. Stop this madness.

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