BMW detours on Apple CarPlay subscription plans

Apple’s CarPlay is a worthwhile feature to help drivers stay focused on the road, but actually getting the software on a car isn’t the easiest process.

For starters, CarPlay is not a standard feature for every trim level of every automobile out there. While some companies offer it as a standard feature, others regulate its availability and keep it pinned in higher-priced models. And then there’s BMW, which, up until very recently, actually charged a subscription for access to the feature.

BMW’s CarPlay support arrived in 2016. The company initially charged upwards of $300 for the feature, and then changed lanes and decided to go with an $80-per-year subscription option instead. To be fair, BMW did offer CarPlay access for free for the first year after buying a new model, but then the customer would be expected to pay the $80 annual fee to keep accessing it.

It’s insane, really.

Well, the feedback from customers (and I’m sure many others) that BMW has received since the debut of that plan has apparently made the company take a detour. According to AutoCar (via 9to5Mac), BMW is planning on announcing a change to that annual subscription plan. Specifically, it’s removing the requirement altogether.

Specifically, a spokesperson for the German automobile manufacturer said that the fee will no longer be in place for owners of BMW vehicles equipped with the latest ConnectedDrive infotainment system.

If the BMW does not have the latest version of ConnectedDrive, the owner can pay around $300 (or £235 in the UK) to get lifetime access to Apple CarPlay. The subscription fee will no longer be tacked on.

What about the folks who already paid the annual subscription? Well, they won’t be getting a refund, but they will not be asked to pay another after the first wraps up. And the report indicates that this change to the subscription plan will go into effect in the United Kingdom first, then roll out to other markets later.

Charging extra for CarPlay, in any capacity really, is all very silly considering CarPlay is dependent on an iPhone being connected to the car. However, auto manufacturers have to tweak the software on their cars to offer support for CarPlay at all, so while Apple may not charge manufacturers to make that a possibility, it’s completely up to the companies how they serve as a gatekeeper to that access.

What do you think of BMW through all this? Think that $300 charge is worth it? Think the $80-per-year subscription was a good move? Or should CarPlay (and Android Auto for that matter) be a standard feature across the board at this point? Let us know in the comments.