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Thursday, December 14, 2017 by Alesa
BMW recently released their latest software updates, improving multimedia support and compatibility with a wide range of popular mobile devices. You can get all the details directly from BMW here.
The bigger questions are: what’s up with these updates? How do you find out about them? How do you know if they are for your model BMW? And more importantly, can you install the updates on your own or do you have to go to your dealer?
Let me give you a quick run-down on how it works:
There are basically two kinds of BMW software updates. A main software update addresses system-wide issues and features and upgrades any of your car’s electronic control modules (ECUs) that require it. To make sure you are getting exactly the update you need, BMW computers will first check the hardware number on each of your ECUs. For this reason, these main software updates can only be completed by BMW dealers or shops equipped with special programming equipment (like BimmerTech). Unless something is not working correctly or you need the update in order to fix the car or get newer equipment to work, you won’t need this kind of upgrade. In fact, BMW recommends against it unless absolutely necessary, and we agree due to potential complications and risks.
More common, though, is a partial software update, or media software update. This may cover things like multimedia, Bluetooth, Internet connectivity, or mobile device compatibility improvements, as the most recent update mentioned above provides. Any owner can install this kind of update as long as your car features a Combox, which works with iDrive and enhances many technology features on your BMW. Newer NBT iDrive systems have Combox functionality built-in, making it even easier. But even older models can be retrofitted with iDrive (at Bimmer-Tech.net) and Combox (check out the BimmerTech Combox Retrofit Kit).
If your Combox or NBT iDrive is factory-installed, you would download the update file from BMW using your VIN number. If you installed the BimmerTech Combox Retrofit Kit or BimmerTech NBT Navigation Retrofit Kit, BMW’s records will still reflect that your car doesn’t have the new hardware, and therefore, won’t show that you qualify for the software update. In that case, all you do is get in touch with us and we’ll get you the official BMW update.
Whether you get the update directly from BMW or us, installing the software update is no more complicated than updating your navigation's map. Simply put the file on a thumb drive or other USB memory stick, plug it into the armrest USB port and go to the Settings menu in iDrive. Locate the Software Update option in the menu and follow the instructions on the screen.
Pretty straight-forward. But there’s one final question: what if you add a Combox or NBT Navigation using a BimmerTech upgrade kit and BMW introduces an essential main software update sometime down the road? No worries. Just remove the Combox/NBT before taking your BMW to your dealer for the update. Then reinstall it when you get it back. If it needs recoding as sometimes happens, just contact our tech team and we’ll get it going again in no time.