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BMW System Malfunction Takes Out Apple CarPlay, Tells Some Owners to Pay for It

Even though BMW no longer requires a subscription to Apple CarPlay in its newer cars, here's further proof that it was a dumb idea in the first place.

BMW’s much-loathed idea to charge owners a subscription fee for Apple CarPlay in its ConnectedDrive-equipped models strikes again, one year after BMW reversed that decision after considerable blowback. Some owners of those cars reported that Apple CarPlay would not work over the weekend, and some were even prompted to pay for the feature, Autoevolution reports. 

Some features like CarPlay go through BMW ConnectedDrive Services, which allows users to pair devices, monitor their cars from afar and sign up for additional apps or services. It’s a customer portal, and that’s where some BMW owners whose CarPlay quit working encountered some confusing messages. Bacster007 on Reddit’s r/BMW explained: 

I spoke with my sales rep at the dealership and verified issues are going on. Had me check the customer portal website which has the car and all the information/apps on it. It shows that I’m subscribed to CarPlay. He said for some people who lost the feature it shows that they have to pay for the app all of a sudden, and some like myself are still showing a valid subscription.

The cars were acting as if the subscription fees for CarPlay were still a thing, prompting some users to pay for the service, but telling others that they had an active subscription even though their CarPlay didn’t work, either. 

Subscribe to more things, they said. It will be fun, they said., BMW

No one could figure out a workaround that would reenable CarPlay during the outage, Autoevolution notes. Turns out, the issue was on BMW’s side, as a BMW spokesperson confirmed to The Drive

“Due to technical problem last week, some BMW ConnectedDrive Services, including support for Apple CarPlay became temporarily unavailable for some U.S.-customers.

After quickly identifying the issue, we were able to fully restore all connected services on Sunday December 6th. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience.”

ConnectedDrive Services are available on all BMWs from the 2014 model year onwards, save for the 2014 X6. 

It’s good to hear that this has been sorted for now, but it seems weird that CarPlay could even slip back into Subscription Hell with a system malfunction. Autoevolution recommends going to your dealership if this happens to you, but given that this was a BMW system-side problem, perhaps there just needs to be a bigger over-the-air fix that removes CarPlay from the subscription-service files permanently. 

And let us never speak of such silly subscription ideas again. I know BMW wants to expand them, but the potential for weird, customer-unfriendly glitches that nuke functionality like this is an added nuisance on top of the whole widely disliked idea. If an entry-level Kia is going to give you heated seats for the life of the car after you buy it with heated seats, it shouldn’t require a subscription to keep such features going in a luxury car.

Correction Wednesday, December 9, 2020 6:58 p.m.: An earlier version of this story stated that the issue was with 2019 and 2020 BMWs, but other BMWs using ConnectedDrive Services experienced the same issue. This has been corrected above.  

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