Here at Seven Smart Auto, we live and breathe Apple CarpPlay and Android Auto, so we thought it would be a good idea to provide you with a detailed FAQ covering a wide range of topics relating to retrofitting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into your vehicle. This FAQ relates to our retrofit Carplay/Android Auto multimedia interfaces which are compatible with BMW, MINI, Audi, Mercedes, Range Rover, Jaguar, Porsche, Lexus, Maserati, Jeep, VW, Nissan, Toyota, Infiniti, Bentley, Aston Martin, and Rolls-Royce vehicles with both wired and wireless connection.
1. WHAT IS APPLE CARPLAY AND ANDROID AUTO?
Apple CarPlay is a user interface designed by Apple Inc specifically for vehicles. It is designed to display applications from your phone onto the built-in display of your vehicle dash. Android Auto is designed by Android Inc/Google Inc and provides similar features to Apple CarPlay.
Here are some screenshots of Apple CarPlay
Here are some screenshots of Android Auto
2. WHAT APPS ARE AVAILABLE WHEN USING CARPLAY AND ANDROID AUTO?
Messages: iMessage, WhatsApp and various other messaging applications are available when using CarPlay/Android Auto. The driver (or passenger) can write, send and read messages using Siri/voice activation.
Music: iTunes(CarPlay only), Amazon Music, Spotify, Radio Apps such as Radio.net, BBC iRadio and many more can be used with the CarPlay/Android Auto application. Music is streamed from your phone to the CarPlay/Android Auto interface and then through your stereo system into the cabin using the existing stereo system in the car. The interface will seamlesslessly integrate with your existing stereo system, delivering crisp audio via the auxiliary input on the built-in head unit.
Navigation: Apply Maps, Google Maps and Waze can be used for satellite navigation. The maps are always up to date, will react “real-time” to traffic jams and do not require a subcription unlike the OEM maps offered by the vehicle manufacturers.
Audio Books and Podcasts: Why not listen to a book or podcast while you drive to work?
3. HOW MUCH DATA IS USED WHEN LISTENING TO THE RADIO OR SPOTIFY ETC VIA CARPLAY?
CarPlay radio/music apps will use around 50 MB/hour when streaming music. If you were to drive for 1hr per day for 1 month while constantly listening to music via one of the CarPlay music streaming apps, you would require around 1.5GB of data.
4. DO I NEED FACTORY NAVIGATION TO USE WAZE, GOOGLE MAPS AND APPLE MAPS?
No, this is one of the key benefits of our retrofit CarPlay/Android Auto upgrade – our system will effectively upgrade “non-navigation” vehicles to become “nav-equipped”.
5. HOW DO APPLE CARPLAY AND ANDROID AUTO WORK?
Apple Carplay and Android Auto work by connecting your iPhone/Android phone to your in-car entertainment system, the iPhone/android phone will transmit the CarPlay/Android user interface to the vehicle display via the retrofit Carplay/Android Auto interface and also allows the driver to control carplay using the factory fitted entertainment controls such as BMW iDrive, Mercedes Comand, Audi MMI, and Porsche PCM. CarPlay can connect wirelessly or via a USB cable.
The wireless connection method for CarPlay is shown in the graphic below, you will notice the Bluetooth connection is dropped once the WiFi connection is established. Our retrofit kit has both Bluetooth and WiFi antennas.
6. HOW DO I INSTALL THE RETROFIT CARPLAY SYSTEM?
A multimedia interface is installed behind the dash, it is connected to the rear of your existing iDrive/MMI/NTG/PCM head unit and a wiring loom is provided for “plug and play installation”. It provides an interface between your iPhone/Android phone and the BMW iDrive / Audi MMI / Mercedes Comand / Porsche PCM entertainment system. It is very similar to the “factory fit” CarPlay options you see on some new cars except that it has been designed specifically for retro-fitting into older cars that have built-in LCD displays such as on different cars below;
7. DOES THIS REPLACE MY EXISTING IDRIVE/MMI/COMAND SYSTEM?
No, the retrofit CarPlay/Android Auto system works in parallel with the existing iDrive/MMI/Comand/PCM system. For example, you can switch between the two by pressing the “BACK” button on the BMW iDrive Controler. You do not need to remove any of the BMW iDrive system components, you simply “add in” the interface using the plug-and-play wiring loom. The same is true for Audi, Mercedes, Mini and VW.
8. HOW DOES CARPLAY/ANDROID AUTO-CONNECT TO MY PHONE?
Our multimedia interface connects to your iPhone/Android phone using either a wireless Bluetooth connection or the supplied USB connection. If connecting by USB the Vehicle will also charge your phone while using CarPlay/Android Auto.
9. WHERE IS THE RETROFIT CARPLAY/ANDROID AUTO MULTIMEDIA UNIT INSTALLED?
Our retrofit Carplay/Android auto unit is installed behind the vehicle dashboard, access is usually gained by removing the radio panel, head unit and a panel in the passenger footwell. The interface is connected in between the built-in LCD/TFT display and the existing wiring loom. The interface sends and receives the signals from the iPhone to the TFT display and the rest of the vehicle entertainment system. User control signals, such as BMW iDrive or the Audi MMI control signals are interpreted by the interface and utilised to control CarPlay. The interface is a plug-and-play solution and no alterations to the OEM wiring loom are required. The CarPlay box can be removed at any time and the vehicle can be returned to factory specifications.
10. CAN I CONNECT WIRELESSLY TO THE RETROFIT CARPLAY/ANDROID AUTO SYSTEM?
Yes, all our multimedia interfaces allow wireless Bluetooth connection as well as USB cable connection which will simultaneously charge your phone at the same time as communicating.
11. DOES THE STANDARD VEHICLE MICROPHONE WORK WITH THE INTERFACE?
On most models, our CarPlay and Android Auto retrofit kits will use both a spare and your factory-equipped microphone. You should connect your factory Bluetooth back to your phone at all times when using CarPlay, it will allow you to make and take phone calls properly. The spare mic is only used for picking the “Hey Siri” or “Ok Google” function and phone calls if your vehicle doesn’t have Bluetooth or Bluetooth not working.
12. WHERE IS THE MICROPHONE INSTALLED?
The spare mic will be installed near the rearview mirror; wiring normally runs from the interface along the inside of the rubber door seal “lip” and then around the windscreen behind the roof lining.
13. DOES THE MAIN IDRIVE ROTARY CONTROLLER AND ASSOCIATED BUTTONS WORK WITH CARPLAY/ANDROID AUTO?
Yes, the rotary knob is fully functional and is the main control interface to CarPlay/Android Auto.
13. WILL THE AUDI MMI ROTARY CONTROLLER AND ASSOCIATED BUTTONS WORK WITH CARPLAY/ANDROID AUTO?
Yes, the rotary knob is fully functional and is the main control interface to CarPlay/Android Auto.
14. DOES THE INTERFACE SUPPORT STEERING WHEEL CONTROLS?
Yes, factory steering wheel controls such as volume control, Phone call buttons are compatible with the CarPlay/Android Auto interface. However, music track up and down may not work on some models.
15. IS IT A DIY INSTALLATION?
Yes, absolutely, the retrofit CarPlay kit has been designed to be installed by anybody who is a competent DIY’er. Please note installation is performed at the installer’s risk and no responsibility can be taken for damage caused by the installer.
16. HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CAR ALREADY HAS CARPLAY, AND IF IT DOESNT, HOW DO I KNOW IF MY VEHICLE IS COMPATIBLE WITH THE RETROFIT CARPLAY/ANDROID AUTO SYSTEM?
If your car is featured on our list of “Compatible vehicles”, then your vehicle does not have the CarPlay factory installed. However, it will have the necessary hardware and software to enable you to use our to retrofit CarPlay/Android Auto with our system.
17. WILL MY ORIGINAL STEREO SYSTEM STILL WORK AFTER THE INTERFACE IS INSTALLED (DAB, AM/FW, ETC)?
Yes your standard in-car entertainment system remains fully functional. When you want to use CarPlay/Android Auto, you enable it on the BMW’s by holding down the “BACK” key on the OEM iDrive controller. CarPlay will then be enabled and displayed on the LCD display, and you can switch back to iDrive at any time. Different buttons are used as the “activation” buttons on different systems.
18. WILL MY PHONE AUTOMATICALLY CONNECT TO CARPLAY WHEN I GET IN THE CAR?
Once initially paired, your iPhone will automatically connect to CarPlay when you get in the car.
19. I HAVE A TOUCH SCREEN IN MY CAR, WILL A RETROFIT CARPLAY/ANDROID AUTO SYSTEM USE THE TOUCH SCREEN?
Yes, it will. If the vehicle has touch functionality, then this function is fully compatible, such as Range Rover, Porsche, and Infiniti.
20. CAN I LISTEN TO MY DAB OEM RADIO AT THE SAME TIME AS CARPLAY IS RUNNING ON MY DISPLAY?
Yes, the choice between the audio source is separate from what is displayed on the LCD screen. For example, you can listen to your DAB radio at the same time as using Waze navigation. The only limitation is that you can only use one audio source at a time, if you are listening to DAB radio, then you will not hear the navigation instructions from CarPlay/Android Auto, or any other sound playing from CarPlay. If you want to listen to music as well as hear navigation instructions, you can do this by using one of the excellent “Radio” apps such as Radio.net, BBC Radio Player or one of the many music apps, including Spotify or Amazon music in carplay.
21. IS THERE A MANUFACTURER’S WARRANTY?
Yes, a 1-year return to our base AU manufacturer warranty is offered.
22. WILL THE CAR INTERIOR STILL LOOK AND BEHAVE LIKE A “FACTORY SPEC MODEL”?
Yes, the interface is mounted inside the dash and does not interfere at all with the “normal operation” of the vehicle. It also uses the original LCD display, so no additional visible hardware is installed.
23. WHERE DOES THE AUDIO COME FROM WHEN USING CARPLAY/ANDROID AUTO?
The audio signal is generated from within the interface using data passed to it from your phone, this is then connected via our wiring loom to the AUX line in the vehicle. Audio is played when you enable “AUX” in the audio menu of the car.
If you do not have an AUX line (some Mercedes NTG5 and Audi models), this can be activated, a USB-AUX converter can be used, or an AMI-AUX adapter can be used)
24. IS THE AUDIO QUALITY FROM THE INTERFACE OF HIGH QUALITY?
Yes, absolutely – the interface uses the highest quality audio components, including Japanese Capacitors in order to generate the best possible quality audio. However, due to using the car’s factory AUX channel as the audio output, compare to the factory Bluetooth channel, sometimes the sound quality may be different to factory Bluetooth, especially some models have a built-in stereo, such as Burmester in Mercedes, Bang&Olufsen in Audi, Harman Kardon in BMW.
25. DOES MY VEHICLE REQUIRE A GPS ANTENNA TO ALLOW GOOGLE MAPS, WAZE OR ANY OF THE OTHER NAVIGATION APPLICATIONS TO WORK PROPERLY?
No, you do not require a GPS antenna in the car, as CarPlay will use your phone’s built-in GPS antenna. This is one of the great benefits of the interface, as vehicles without navigation can be “upgraded” to include navigation with Carplay. Not only that, Waze, Google Maps and Apple Maps are, in our opinion, far superior to the BMW/Audi/Mercedes navigation system.
26. WILL THE CARPLAY INTERFACE BE COMPATIBLE WITH THE LATEST IOS AND ANDROID SOFTWARE?
Yes, the interface software is continually developed to be compatible with the latest iOS and Android software releases. It is not necessary to upgrade the interface after it has been installed.
27. WILL THE FACTORY-FITTED PARKING DISTANCE SENSORS (PDC) STILL WORK WHEN I PUT THE CAR INTO REVERSE?
Yes, the BMW/Audi/Mercedes etc parking distance sensors will still work when you put the car into reverse.
28. I ALREADY HAVE A FACTORY-FITTED REVERSING CAMERA, WILL THIS STILL WORK ONCE THE RETROFIT CARPLAY INTERFACE IS INSTALLED?
Yes, when the car is put into reverse, the central display switches to the stocked rear view camera and also activates the parking distance sensors.
29. IF I HAVE PDC’S BUT NO FACTORY-FITTED REVERSING CAMERA, CAN I RETROFIT AN AFTERMARKET REVERSING CAMERA THAT WILL WORK WITH CARPLAY?
Yes, you can. We recommend a 12V version. The aftermarket reversing camera (once fitted) needs to be enabled by turning on the dip switch number 8 on the back of the interface and unplugging and plugging back the power harness for resetting.
30. Why I can’t hear people talking when I take phone calls in CarPlay? Or why phone calls quality is very poor when using CarPlay?
As a retrofitted CarPlay, it is designed to integrate with your existing car media system and play sound through the car stereo. However, this kind of integration has certain limitations. iPhone will treat the retrofit carplay as an external multimedia player to connect to the original car system, like iPod or MP3. When taking a phone call, iPhone will automatically select the car Bluetooth as its primary phone channel and override the external multimedia(CarPlay). This is equivalent to answering a phone call while listening to the car radio, and the sound of the radio will be muted. So you need to keep the car original Bluetooth connected to the iPhone, and when there is a call, only answer the call through the steering wheel or the phone button on the control panel of the dash. This will enable your car’s Bluetooth and in-car mic while working with the CarPlay GUI.
To fix the issue regarding calls coming through improperly on CarPlay, There are some solutions:
First, you must ensure your original car Bluetooth is connected to your iPhone. And pick calls always from your steering wheel or the phone button on the control panel of the dash. If this method does not solve the problem, please try the following.
Go to iPhone Settings – Accessibility – Touch – Call Audio Routing – select Bluetooth Headset or whatever primary means of connection you prefer. This will enable Your cars in car mic while working with the car play GUI.