Unlike many automakers that offer Apple CarPlay in their new cars, BMW makes you pay for it on all of their models. That’s unlikely to change, but it may soon cut a break to those who don’t use iOS or don’t like Apple’s smartphone integration system for the car.
The automaker next year will turn CarPlay into a subscription-based service rather than treating it as a one-time option, Don Smith, technology product manager for BMW North America, told The Verge at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show on Tuesday.
“This allows the customer to switch devices,” he said. “A lot of people buy [CarPlay] and think it’s okay, but sometimes they stop using it or switch to Android.”
BMW added CarPlay for 2017 as a $300 option on cars equipped with built-in navigation. It introduced a wireless CarPlay setup with charging on the 5 Series last year, too, supported by the latest iDrive 6.0 interface.
Smith said the new plan would be free for the first year of ownership on a new BMW. After that, owners would be asked to pay $80 per year to keep the service. Over the course of a three or four-year lease, it would still work out to less money than the option is now, he said.
Currently, BMW doesn’t offer Android Auto on any of its vehicles. But Smith said Google Assistant is coming to new BMW models later in 2018. The company already announced it would add Amazon Alexa to its new models. Smith said more Alexa skills would be enabled later this year to control more than just basic vehicle functions such as locks and lights.
Apple has not yet responded to requests for comment.