BMW iDrive 7.0 – TOP 11 Features & Functions

Bianka Rommel
Jan 21, 2021

Can you believe it’s been 20 years since the first BMW iDrive came into the spotlight? Time goes by so quickly ;) Fast-forward to 2021, you can now use the 7th generation software system, and it's more focused on your comfort than ever. 

If you’re a BMW tech freak and lurking into the purchase of 2018 or newer BMW with iDrive 7.0, here’s what you should know about this latest infotainment update.

BMW iDrive System

What is BMW iDrive 7.0

The BMW Operating System 7.0, more commonly known as BMW iDrive 7.0, is the 7th generation – and the newest version yet – of BMW’s in-car communication and entertainment system. The software controls a number of areas of your BMW’s computer, such as entertainment, navigation, communication, media controls and vehicle information, as well as easily integrating with a phone's internet connection.

Split into its main parts, the BMW iDrive consists of:

  1. MGU (Media Graphic Unit) head unit.

  2. BMW touch controller. 

  3. Displays: the Live Cockpit instrument cluster (driver display), the Head-up display and a high-tech iDrive infotainment display (central display). 

Replacing the Analog Instrument cluster with an LED display, the iDrive 7.0 digital instrument cluster doesn’t limit its functions to showing passive gauges like speed, the odometer or the tachometer. It can also turn into a quick-access screen for entertainment purposes. Meanwhile, the iDrive infotainment display makes use of touchscreen technology, as well as voice and gesture control to work with the on-board computer. 

When did iDrive 7.0 come out? 

The new operating system had its big debut on the G05 BMW X5 SUV in the summer of 2018, as well as on the 3 Series and 5 Series later that autumn. BMW manufacturers decided to introduce a new design to iDrive 7.0, which would streamline the architecture of iDrive 6.0, letting the updated display present only a selected set of information most valuable to the user. This prioritization of some information over others was supposed to improve the looks and modern feel of the iDrive, but more importantly distract the driver less when on the road. 

Which BMW models have iDrive 7.0?

BMW iDrive 7.0 is currently available on the following BMW models produced since 2018:

  • G20 BMW 3 Series
  • G22 BMW 4 Series
  • G30 BMW 5 Series
  • G32 BMW 6 Series
  • G11 BMW 7 Series
  • G15 BMW 8 Series
  • G16 BMW M8
  • G29 BMW  Z Series
  • I01 BMW i3
  • I12 / I15 BMW i8
  • G01 BMW X3 
  • G02 BMW X4 
  • G05 BMW X5
  • G06 BMW X6
  • G07 BMW X7
  • G08 BMW X8

TOP 11 BMW iDrive 7.0 features

Although the BMW iDrive 7.0 is packed with even more up-to-date features than its predecessor, the way it presents all that information is much clearer and user-oriented compared to the 6th iDrive generation. Here, puristic displays meet intuitive usability to optimize the management of all iDrive features. Now, let’s see what the TOP 11 iDrive 7.0 features are.

NOTE: BimmerTech doesn’t offer most of the following features as of yet. The list was prepared purely for educational purposes. To check our retrofits and coding options, go to our shop. Or, sign up to our newsletter and be the first to know about available upgrades for your vehicle.

subsctiption_banner

BMW Live Cockpit instrument cluster

Available in 2018+ BMWs.

Almost no road passes by without distractions. There’s always something that will catch your attention and make you want to stay even more focused behind the wheel. Your iDrive's role is to help you with that – for this reason, Operating System 7.0's BMW Live Cockpit digital instrument cluster was created. 

The LED display is split into 3 areas offering driver-oriented personal information, which are supposed to highlight only the information of particular interest to you, such as navigation instructions, the speed limit or entertainment content:

  • The left area houses all driving information. 
  • In the center you can check route guidance, navigation and control messages.
  • On the right side, all the rev counters, well as widgets are displayed.

Seems convenient, right? The flat menu structure makes it easy for you to get quick access to all functions and settings, which you can toggle using steering wheel controls. 

Plus, depending on your driving mode, the display will change the colour and type of presentation. See how it looks in action.

Customizable BMW iDrive infotainment display

Available in 2018+ BMWs.

The bigger the better? In the case of displays, it seems so. The BMW iDrive center infotainment screen has been gradually growing over the last decade to become a vital aspect of the driver experience. From a 6.6” display set in the dash to a 12.3” screen located atop it, it has increased both in resolution and control possibilities. 

Read more about the types of BMW screens and how to upgrade them.

The infotainment display of BMW OS 7.0 equipped with Live Cockpit Professional package has a 12.3” touch or gesture control screen (1920 x 720 pixels), which divides into 5 sections: navigation, media, communication, apps and car control. The convenient part? You can flexibly customize the home screen using smartphone-like, drag-menus at the top and on the left side of the screen. Redundant apps, you can simply remove from the list by using the ‘personalize menu’ function. That way your main menu stays as clean as you want it to.

What about the layout of information in a specific section? Similarly to the instrument cluster, it divides into 3 areas. The left side hides the navigation menu you can swipe in or out, the center shows the main content and on the right all live actions take place. This design unity between the LED driver display and central display makes it pretty quick to adjust to the iDrive architecture – not mentioning the steering wheel controls, which on top of everything allow you to maintain a full focus on the road.

BMW gesture control

Available in 2018+ BMWs.

You’re going to be hyped-up by this one. Imagine, you’re driving 95 mph on the highway and want to turn up the volume in your brand new car. What do you do? With BMW iDrive 7.0 gesture control, all you have to do is point your finger towards the iDrive screen and circle it clockwise. Bam! The music cranks up. Want to turn it down a bit? Just rotate your finger in the other direction.

These are not the only features you can control using your gestures. The list also includes accepting or rejecting a call, selecting navigation settings, skipping functions back and forth and changing the 360-degree Rear View Camera angle. 

Although the gesture control feature premiered in 2015 BMWs that came with an NBT Evo ID6 iDrive, it can now be found in almost every BMW with Operating System 7.0. 

How to get BMW gesture control in your BMW? Find out what’s necessary to feature it in your car. 

If gesture control wasn’t included in your BMW with iDrive 7.0, do not despair. BimmerTech offers BMW Gesture Control retrofit for cars with Operating System 7.

subscription_banner

See the overview:

BMW Android Auto

Available in 2020+ BMWs.

It’s been a long wait for Android phone owners to finally get Android Auto functionality straight with the iDrive system, and now their time has come. BMW iDrive 7.0 gives you the option to add Android Auto to your Bimmer by quick over-the-air update, and use it both via cable or wirelessly. 

To enjoy a wireless version though, you’ll have to have a Samsung, Nexus or Pixel smartphone running on Android 8.0 or higher. Once paired with the iDrive system, you can access all of your favourite Android apps, such as Google Maps, Spotify, Waze or Audible on the infotainment display, and control them using the iDrive controller or Google Assistant. Plus, if you’d like to see more than one app at a time, the split widescreen display enables you to do so. The left side is your app drawer, the center is occupied by the primary app and on the right area you have small widgets running at the back, such as your current playlist or the clock.

BMW Live Cockpit’s LED instrument cluster and head-up display are also not missing anything when it comes to smartphone integration. Just like the center display, they show you the route information and navigation from Google Maps, so that you don’t have to take your eyes off the road. See for yourself!

Got a BMW produced in 2008 or later? You too can upgrade it with Android Auto retrofit

See how to add Android Auto to your car. 

BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant

Available in 2018+ BMWs.

Are you one of those folks who like the comfort of Alexa running your home appliances? You’ll definitely enjoy having a personal assistant in your car! BMW has introduced its own ‘BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant’ to ConnectedDrive services, to give drivers the possibility to control certain modules of the infotainment system. It’ll be able to set the seat heating, add points of interest in navigation, identify songs, adjust the climate control, integrate with Skype, provide expert car knowledge and more. 

Got a BMW iDrive 7.0? Ask it to ‘vitalize you’ and see what happens ;) The personal assistant will automatically try to boost your energy when you’re sleepy behind the wheel – it will turn the ambilights to green, drop the temperature, turn on revitalizing music, raise the air conditioning and open the sunroof. Undoubtedly, one of the coolest features out there. 

See how it works.

BMW guarantees the assistant is a fast learner. Let it get to know your routines and expect great results! What’s also uncommon, the smart voice can be given your custom name and develop a personal profile for you, which will be a part of your BMW ID. When changing cars, just sign in and it’ll recognize who you are immediately. 

BMW Connected App / My BMW App

Available in 2014+ BMWs.

The newer iDrive you get, the more connected you are. Imagine being able to check up on your BMW while away, or control your car with only one tap on your phone. Feels like leaps and bounds ahead from where you are now? Actually, it takes only two things to jump to this next level of connectivity – BMW iDrive 7.0 and the BMW ConnectedDrive App or My BMW App.

Included in the BMW Connected Drive package, BMW ConnectedDrive App and My BMW App are applications integrating your Apple or Android smartphone with your car. In their premise, both of them are essentially the same app, but the My BMW App is soon to fully replace the BMW ConnectedDrive App. Why? It’ll introduce a new, modern design to the application and simplify user interaction. 

Although each of those apps can work on 2014 and later BMWs, they reach their true potential only when paired with 2019+ vehicles. So what functions do they have? They let you: 

  • Keep things under control: Set the climate control from afar, lock or unlock doors, turn your phone into a car key, check charge and fuel status and get a 3D remote view of your car.
  • Plan your trip: Program destinations before you get into your vehicle with one tap on your phone.
  • Find your car: Flash your headlights or sound the horn and never forget where you left your vehicle.
  • Always be on time: Schedule your road trips, find nearby parking spots and be informed when to take off based on traffic.
  • Maintain your car: Download over-the-air software upgrades, access Roadside Assistance, schedule service appointments, find dealers, and connect via Alexa.

How to get them on your phone? BMW ConnectedDrive App can be installed on your iPhone supported by iOS 11.0 or later, and added to your 6.0 or newer Android version. Find it in the Apple store or Google store. My BMW App requires an iPhone supported by iOS 12 or later and for Android – the same phone specifications apply. The app is also available in Apple store and Google store

BMW Digital Key

Available in 2018+ BMWs.

The standard BMW key fob can do many tricks in your car, but up to a point it will always be limited in its functionalities. The BMW Digital Key, however, opens up new car control possibilities. Being a car key app for iPhones and smartphones, the Digital Key allows you to conveniently unlock and lock your BMW, start the engine without using a physical key, share your key with up to 5 other people and restrict certain car functions for other folks.

What does it take to add a BMW Digital Key to your vehicle? Apart from being equipped with Operating System 7, your BMW should have a factory-original Comfort Access (S322A) and an automatic transmission. When it comes to a compatible iPhone – it should be supported by iOS 13.6 or higher. Android devices are NOT compatible with BMW Digital Key for the time being.

Learn more about BMW Digital Key and how to install it in your car.

BMW Remote Start 

Available in 2019+ BMWs.

Let’s see if you’re familiar with this scenario. You come from the north east of the US and it’s freezing cold outside. The temperature in every place, including the interior of your car, plummets to minus digits, at which point you really don’t feel like heading to work. Wouldn’t it be nice to heat up your ride a bit before you get in? That’s what BMW Remote Start is for. It lets the driver warm up, cool down or ventilate the vehicle and defrost the engine if needed.  

Learn how to use BMW Remote Start.

In BMWs with Operating System 7.0 and a Premium package, the Remote Start feature can be added as an extra factory option. All you have to do is specify to your BMW dealer you’d like to have it added before you make a purchase.

See how to set up BMW Remote Start on iDrive 7.0:

  1. Go to ‘Car’.
  2. Then enter ‘Settings’.
  3. Choose ‘Climate Comfort’.
  4. Then select ‘Preconditioning / ventilation’.
  5. And lastly the ‘Remote engine start’ option will pop up for activation.

Take a look at this video to see how to enable and use a BMW Remote Start:

BMW Driver Assistance Services

Available in 2019+ BMWs.

At times during long road trips, driver assistance might be your savior. As luck would have it, the ConnectedDrive package in Operating System 7.0 is equipped with multiple new BMW Driver Assistance services that enhance safety features and make your journey easier.

What are some of the most useful BMW Driver Assistance systems? The list includes the latest:

  • Distance control (Adaptive cruise control): Set your desired speed and let the driver assistant orientate to the car in front. The system will automatically brake or accelerate depending on the distance from the vehicle ahead. In high traffic situations, the distance control will manage braking and start-up for you. 

  • Steering and lane guidance assist: Helps you maintain a steady hand while driving in congestion, narrow lanes or at a high speed. Turn the system on and let the driver assistance system orientate to the boundary lines of your lane. Need to take your hands off the wheel? Use “Hands-Off” driving mode when going up to 60 km/h.
  • Emergency brake assist: Be warned about the risk of collision and make your vehicle stop itself before crashing. Having a medical emergency while driving? Just pull the E brake and the car will stop as well as trigger an emergency call.
  • BMW Face Recognition Technology: Are you in driverless mode? The infrared camera will ensure you keep your eyes on the road to minimise potential risk. If you don’t, after a certain amount of time a warning sign and noise will occur, followed by the car slowing down via Emergency Stop Assistant. 
  • BMW Parking Assistant : Get help when maneuvering or parking and avoid car damage. Let the assistant park your car into and out of tight spaces with one touch of a button. Driving up to 5 mph? The Rear Drive Assist will be able to reconstruct the last 50m of the route driven in reverse.

Extended BMW Apps 

Available in 2019+ BMWs.

Each update brings new capabilities to your iDrive system, but 2019 updates of the Operating System 7.0 were especially fruitful with handy apps making your driving experience much more enjoyable. Here are some of the top useful BMW iDrive 7.0 apps:

  • BMW Drive recorder: Use your surround view cameras as a dash cam. Automatically record the videos, save them in your iDrive folder and set up the recording length. Want all of your cameras to serve as a dash cam or only chosen ones? Select it in your Drive recorder app settings. Here’s how it works: 

  • BMW Caring Car: Need to enhance your mood and fitness during a tiring drive? Caring Car will orchestrate different vehicle functions, such as music, temperature or seat heating, to either relax or revitalize you when you need it. See how it works:

  • BMW Experience mode: From Executive, through Expressive, to Wellbeing – change the mode of your vehicle according to your mood. Select your preferred ambient lighting, seat heating, climate control, sun protection, seat massage and more depending on the atmosphere you’d like.
  • BMW Park Now: Hard to find a parking spot in your town? BMW Park Now will show you all available parking spots in your area and save you lots of time and nerves from wandering around the city.
  • Spotify App: Want to add the Spotify app to your BMW? Update your apps and services in the ‘Installed apps’ tab and let it appear within seconds in your Media library.

BMW iDrive 7.0 screen mirroring

Using your favourite iPhone or Android apps straight from your iDrive screen is undoubtedly the most convenient way to go. Yet, sometimes you just want to screen mirror the video content you currently watch on YouTube or display the messages from your friend. The screen mirroring function is handy in situations like that, and available in iDrive 7.0 for selected phones.

How to screen mirror phone in iDrive 7.0? 

  1. Make sure your Android smartphone supports Miracast connections.
  2. Go to your iDrive menu.
  3. Enter ‘General settings’.
  4. Select ‘Mobile devices’.
  5. Add a ‘New device’.
  6. Choose ‘Screen mirroring via Miracast’.
  7. Click on ‘Connect now’.

At that point, your smartphone will be automatically mirrored on your central iDrive display. 

Keep in mind, screen mirroring in iDrive 7.0 can be done exclusively with Android smartphones. Apple iPhones don’t have that capability.

NOTE: BimmerTech doesn’t offer most of the mentioned features as of yet. The list was prepared purely for educational purposes. To check our retrofits and coding options, go to our shop. Or, sign up to our newsletter and be the first to know about available upgrades for your vehicle.

subscription_banner

BMW iDrive 7.0 vs iDrive 6.0

If you’re getting a new BMW with iDrive 7.0 and wonder whether it’ll be drastically different from your current 6th generation, rest assured. BMW MGU is based on BMW’s Professional NBT Evo architecture introduced to the market in 2016, so you should already be familiar with navigating through the system. The most prominent change lies in the added BMW Live Cockpit and interactive features such as gesture control, improved personal voice assistant or the Digital Key app. However, more apps doesn’t mean more clutter. The layout of all 7.0 displays is designed to present you most vital information while keeping other apps tidily hidden in their place.  

Want to know more about NBT Evo ID5 / ID6? Dig in this blog post.

How to update your iDrive 6.0 to iDrive 7.0

Changing from iDrive 6.0 to iDrive 7.0 is for the time being not possible, as it would cause too much interference with the vehicle structure. So, if you’d like to use the latest system your only solution is to switch to a BMW already supporting it. 

Don’t want to replace your BMW? Updating your existing software might be right for you. Learn more about BMW software updates.

How to reboot/reset BMW iDrive 7.0 

Nobody’s perfect, not even a top notch software system ;) So if you ever come across a rare problem with BMW Operating System 7, it will be possible for you to give it a quick fix. How? As we all know, turning devices off and on is a good old method of handling technological issues, and things are no different in the case of an iDrive.  

You may treat rebooting your iDrive system as first aid for your computer problems. In this video you’ll see how to reboot iDrive 7.0:

Want to get rid of all of your iDrive settings and bring your software back to its factory state? This simple iDrive reset procedure will help you delete all personal data and vehicle data from the system:

  1. Go to ‘CAR’.
  2. Enter ‘Settings’.
  3. Choose ‘General settings’.
  4. And lastly tap on ‘Reset vehicle data’ followed by the reset confirmation.

Now your BMW will be restarted. Remember, if you’ve synchronised your driver profile settings with the ConnectedDrive account, all settings will be retained in your ConnectedDrive account. See how it works:

BMW iDrive 7.0 Software Upgrade version 07/20

In 2020 BMW released the most extensive upgrade of Operating System 7 – the Remote Software Upgrade (version 07/20). It was the largest over-the-air update ever rolled out by the manufacturer, which was received by over 750K cars worldwide. The iDrive upgrade included new improved functions, such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay update, BMW Maps, BMW intelligent Personal Assistant, Connected Parking and more. See what it has to offer:


If your BMW was produced before July 2020 it most likely misses the latest software. To update it, go to your iDrive menu and check for available upgrades in the vehicle settings under Remote Software Upgrade. 

You can simply upgrade your software to the 07/20 version via Wi-Fi with BMW ConnectedDrive App or My BMW App. Here’s how to:

  1. Enter the app and find the Remote Software Upgrade menu.
  2. Go to Remote Software Upgrade settings and choose the ‘Wi-Fi only’ download.
  3. Click on ‘Start download’.
  4. When download is completed, connect your phone to your vehicle via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
  5. In your iDrive settings check your connections in the ‘Mobile devices’ menu. 
    • To establish a Wi-Fi connection click on ‘new device’.
    • Select ‘Internet, apps’.
    • Scan the QR code with your phone. 
    • You’ll receive a Wi-Fi token, which you’ll have to accept to establish the connection.
  6. With the Wi-Fi connection established, the software upgrade will be uploaded during your journey.

See how it looks in action:  

How to code iDrive 7.0 

Cars equipped with iDrive 7.0 have a host of BMW apps and features to be unlocked or coded in. The popular ones include:

  • Apple CarPlay: Connect your iPhone to your car and use your favourite iOS apps straight from the factory iDrive screen. Navigate with Google Maps or Waze, access your iTunes library and send texts via Siri. 
  • Videos in motion: Tired passengers on board with you? Play them a film on your iDrive screen while you’re focused on driving. 
  • Legal disclaimer deactivation: Don’t feel like seeing the legal disclaimer on your iDrive screen every time you start your car or drive in reverse? Deactivate it and never be bothered by it again.
  • Key fob deactivation: Lost your BMW key fob? Prevent it from falling into the wrong hands! With our key fob deactivation service, you'll make it useless in a matter of minutes. 
  • Battery registration: If you’re preparing to replace an old car battery in your 2002 or newer BMW, battery registration will be a vital procedure to maintain your vehicle’s longevity. BimmerTech specialists offer a coding process to adjust your vehicle to the new battery specifications – all in the comfort of your own home.
  • BMW Map Update: Did you know that almost 40% of the road network can change annually? Stay up-to-date with the new routes, save fuel, avoid traffic and always be on time! BMW Map updates help you do it all and even more. 

Conclusion

From CCC and CIC generations, through NBT Evo modules, up to MGU upgrade – BMW manufacturers have undeniably sharpened up their acts in producing technological upgrades of iDrive systems. Undoubtedly, the latest iDrive 7.0 version, being even more driver-focused and interconnected between devices, is the ultimate proof of the 20-year progression. But, the exciting part is, soon we can expect even more to come from BMW iDrive features and functionalities. 




FAQ
Comments
Rate this product
[[comment.name]]
[[comment.text]]

BimmerTech