Hidden BMW iDrive Features

Bianka Rommel
Nov 23, 2020

You use your iDrive system on an everyday basis and probably think there’s no function you've missed. Well, let us surprise you :)  BMW iDrive systems hide quite a few handy features that make your multimedia experience much more intuitive and personalized, without being so obvious at first glance. 

So to help you enjoy your iDrive even more, we’ve taken a look at the TOP 8 hidden BMW iDrive features that’ll add to the pleasure of driving.

Hidden BMW iDrive Features

BMW Radio Memory Buttons

BMW feature available in E/F/G models.

iDrive systems are rich with functions — they support radio channels, navigation, sport display, phone contacts and a host of others. But let’s be honest, you’re usually using only a few of those BMW features frequently, while most just happen to be there. So, why not distinguish your favourite options and have them at your fingertips? 

You can do it by coding your BMW radio memory buttons. What BMW radio presets do is turn your radio channel buttons into iDrive option buttons that bring you to any specific feature you program them to. 

How do I program my BMW radio buttons?

  1. Navigate to an option you want to have easy access to — it can be your GPS, a contact, vehicle status, sport display, etc.
  2. Highlight that option and hold a chosen radio button for a few seconds until it gives a confirmation chime.
  3. From now on, every time you press that button it will bring you to the specified option in your iDrive.

Check how Dylan does it:

Another convenient feature of the BMW radio buttons is their touch sensitivity. Each time you gently put your finger on a button, you’ll see what option (or radio station) it leads to before you even press it. Great for keeping up with all 8 buttons on your dashboard.

BMW Gracenote update

BMW feature available in F/G models.

Oh, those earworms are annoying… even more so when you don’t know the actual song titles or performers ;) Imagine how satisfying it would be to have any song fully identified on your BMW iDrive screen. That’s exactly what the Gracenote update does to the music playing from your CDs.

If you keep your music collection on CDs, you must be used to lacking song information on your BMW iDrive screen. The Gracenote update, using music recognition technologies, identifies the name of the song, artist, album cover art and track data for WMA music files — all to give drivers a more complete entertainment experience. 

Want to see all song info while skipping through the tracks? BimmerTech can offer you a quick Gracenote update on your iDrive which will resemble a simple map update via USB. This BMW coding option is available for any BMW with NBT, NBT Evo or MGU head units. Contact us for more details. 

Prefer playing music from Spotify or YouTube? Check out how to do it with our BMW CarPlay retrofit.

Zooming in on BMW iDrive

BMW feature available in E/F/G models.

We all like to see things up close on our devices. Whether we’re watching a film, looking at pictures, or reading something on the Internet, the zoom function is in frequent use on our phones or laptops — so why not use it on iDrive screens?

Learn more about the types of iDrive screens.

If you've ever got frustrated that the phone content during screen mirroring only took up one-third of your iDrive screen, or that the movie you’re playing from a USB stick didn’t spread to the whole width of the screen, you’ll be glad to hear there’s a simple way to zoom in. No need for BMW coding!

  1. Turn on the content you watch or display.
  2. Use your iDrive controller to open the menu options on the side of the screen.
  3. Scroll down to ‘Display settings’.
  4. Select ‘Zoom mode’. 
  5. Now, create a shortcut for the ‘zoom’ function for your memory buttons. 
  6. Simply press and hold the number you want to use for zooming in. And that’s it.

Now you can use zoom on any USB or DVD video you’re playing, during Android screen mirroring or while watching a film from a TV tuner. 

Want to try out screen mirroring solutions? Get to know which one will suit you best.

Custom photo on the split screen

BMW feature available in F/G models.

If you have an 10.25” iDrive screen in your BMW, you must be quite fond of its split-screen capability and all of the additional info it can display right in front of your eyes. Using online widgets, such as a weather display, clock or Flickr, or other information, like your coordinates or an economizer, is pretty functional and popular among BMW drivers who use the split screen. But have you ever tried to use it for more personal purposes? 

Displaying your personal photos of your pet or a child on the side of the screen can be far more comforting during longer drives than a weather widget :) So, if you want to bring a homely feel to your car, just like you do to your phone or desk in the office, you can do it using the BMW Connected Drive app. 

If you have this app installed on your phone, you can upload to it a bunch of photos of your choice — your BMW will automatically download them to its iDrive system. Then in your split screen settings, just choose the option to display a specific photo and that’s it!

Is your car compatible with that BMW feature? All vehicles with NBT-type head units and higher can easily use this BMW functionality. 

Music cover art in BMW iDrive

BMW feature available in E/F/G models.

FM Radio not your thing, and you prefer playing MP3 or USB playlists on your BMW iDrive system? You’re not the only one! :) Many BMW drivers enjoy picking songs that fit their mood on the road. However, something that makes it difficult to navigate through the playlist quickly is missing album covers. 

If you’d like your BMW iDrive to display every song cover, whether for aesthetic or practical purposes, you can do it by uploading your music along with the cover art to a music file editor — for instance an app called Tag&Rename. 

Tag&Rename is an editor for music file tags that can handle many common digital audio formats. It supports tag fields such as cover art, lyrics, album artist, mood, composer, etc. to keep your music collection organized. Once you set up a whole playlist with your cover art (or even just a few songs if you want to), download it to your USB stick or an MP3 player, then plug the device into your BMW iDrive, and all songs on your iDrive screen will automatically show up with their cover art. It’s as simple as that!

Your music tracks will look better than ever before on any device you plug your USB stick into, or an MP3 player. :) Wonder whether you can do it on your head unit? This feature will for sure work on CIC, NBT, NBT Evo ID4, NBT Evo ID5/ID6 and MGU navigation systems.

See what head unit you have.

BMW iDrive on-screen keyboard 

BMW feature available in F/G models.

Typing a lot on your iDrive? BMW Touch pads do a great job with recognizing your handwritten letters while driving, but surely they’re not as intuitive as a keyboard you’re so used to from other devices. Luckily, BMW thought it through and decided to equip your car with an on-screen keyboard, which would be of great help when typing in navigation destinations, contacts, telephone numbers or search.

The only catch is... you have to have a touch screen, or be compatible with one, to use that capability ;) The on-screen keyboard appears automatically as your hand gets within 3 inches of the screen or touches it. It also shows up any time you’re selecting menus using the touch screen and the input field is required. BUT, you must be aware that the on-screen keyboard can be used only when the vehicle is parked.

And here’s how this BMW hidden feature looks in action.

Not compatible with a touch screen? Try out a BMW touch controller! See how to add it with a DIY retrofit kit.

Permanently Disable BMW auto start stop

BMW feature available in E/F/G models.

BMW auto Start / Stop function has its pros and cons — the obvious advantage is saving fuel while the car is stationary. But, although it may improve fuel economy in high-traffic situations, it also tends to be quite tiring for drivers whose engine continuously shuts off when standing at the stop lights or in a traffic jam. So, if you’d like to prevent your engine from turning off every time your vehicle stops, we can code the BMW Start / Stop button for you.

How to disable BMW auto Start / Stop? BimmerTech’s Start / Stop button coding will turn off the automatic engine shut off function and program your BMW to remember its most recent settings. As a result, every time you stop your vehicle and hold the brake pedal, your car’s engine will remain turned on.

Interested? To deactivate the BMW auto Start / Stop you’ll need a coding cable and a remote coding session with a BimmerTech technician. Just order first, then set up your session and leave the rest to us :)

See how to prepare for a BMW coding session. 

Want to keep your battery in good shape? Get to know all about BMW registration.

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BMW DSP Equalizer

BMW feature available in F/G models.

Would you like to improve the sound coming from your BMW speakers? Whether you’re an audiophile or not, being able to adjust the sound of your AUX, CD music, calls, etc., is something anyone will find handy in everyday audio use. And as it turns out, you can easily do it through your BMW iDrive.

If you have one of the following audio systems in your car, you’ll be able to tune the audio according to your preferences: 

  • HiFi System Professional DSP (S677A)
  • Harman/Kardon Surround Sound system (S688A)
  • Bang&Olufsen High End sound system (S6F2A)

How to find the DSP equalizer? 

  1. First, go to your iDrive menu and find ‘Settings’.
  2. Then choose ‘Sound Settings’.
  3. And lastly select ‘Equalizer’.

Depending on your sound system you may have from 6 to 10 channels (tuning profiles). However, if you’d like your audio to jump to the next level of performance, our BimmerTech Amplifier will give you a hand customizing your sound with Digital Signal Processing (DSP), a 30-band graphic EQ, and a host of sound-shaping filters.

Learn why it’s worth upgrading your BMW amplifier.

Summary

Do you still think you know your BMW iDrive like the back of your hand? ;) These 8 BMW standard features are only the tip of the iceberg hiding in your car. There are even more comfort functions bringing convenience to your ride, so if you’d like to share an interesting feature you think we’ve missed, let us know down in the comment section. We’re open for suggestions! 


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