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MINI Connected Explored – Best features & How to update

Bianka Rommel

Oct 13, 2021

Inspired by the track, but made to hit the open road. MINI Cooper is all about bringing back its racing heritage to every bit of performance and style, while not forgetting to keep up with the spirit of time. 
And what better way to do that than with a popular and broadly integrated infotainment technology in the form of MINI Connected?

This heart of the MINI navigation system may have less or more functionalities – such as MINI Cooper Apple CarPlay or remote services – depending on your software version. So if you want to enjoy your go-kart of the highway to the fullest, here you’ll see what you can do to update its latest features.

MINI Connected Explored

What is MINI Connected?

MINI Connected is basically an equivalent of BMW’s iDrive, capitalizing on its know-how, but with a bit of a flash spicing up the Bavarian design. This infotainment system is composed of the hardware:

  • the 8.8” or 6.5” LCD Central Information Display 
  • the head unit, 
  • the controller, 
  • AUX and USB inputs

 and software divided into major segments on the central display:

  • My MINI (car controls, stats)
  • Notifications 
  • Communication
  • Media/Radio 
  • Navigation
  • MINI Connected Services (an online service similar to BMW’s ConnectedDrive)

MINI Connected

Although it already appeared in 2008 MINIs, it came a long way to finally meet its fully tech-loaded design in the two latest 2018+ nav packs – the MINI Navigation Pack and MINI Navigation Pack Plus – both of which slightly differ in its features. For instance in the display size – 6.5” in MINI Navigation Pack vs. 8.8” in MINI Navigation Pack Plus – or the wireless phone charger in the central armrest – absent in the standard pack, present in the enhanced one.

However, that’s not all there is to it. MINI Connected was historically always tightly linked to phone integration, allowing drivers to make hands-free phone calls via voice control. Over the years that small convenience developed profoundly, and the concept of phone integration underwent substantial expansion – leading to none other than the MINI Connected companion app (recently called MINI App).

The app was introduced to bridge you and your MINI when you’re not anywhere near it by pairing your Apple (iOS 13.0 +) or Android devices (Android 6.0+) with your head unit. All to allow remote interaction with a host of maintenance, security and infotainment features. 

Want to know what they are? Here you’ll find out about TOP 11 Connected app features.

What MINIs have MINI Connected?

The first version of MINI Connected was included in the 2008 MINI Clubman and 2 Door Hardtop, to be then introduced to all later MINI models. 

Here’s the full list of MINIs with MINI Connected:

- 2008+ 2 Door MINI Hardtop
- 2008+ MINI Clubman
- 2009+ MINI Convertible
- 2011+ MINI Countryman
- 2012+ MINI Roadster
- 2012+ MINI Coupe
- 2014+ MINI Paceman
- 2015+ 4 Door MINI Hardtop
- 2021+ MINI John Cooper Works

How to use MINI Connected

Folks who are familiar with BMW iDrive shouldn’t struggle to find their way around the MINI Connected interface, since it shares an identical concept of navigating the menu via either a control knob, steering wheel buttons, voice control or a touchscreen. Depending on your MINI's age, not all these means will be compatible of course, yet that still doesn’t take away much from the convenience of use.  

MINI controller

Located in the center console, MINI controller – once a thumb-size joystick – allows you to swiftly scroll around menus by turning and pressing its wheel-shaped control knob. For a direct media selection you can also use five buttons above it which instantly take you to maps, radio, main menu or telecommunication. The option key opens the settings section, and pressing "Back" takes you to the last selected page.

MINI controller

MINI voice command system

Operating your MINI Connected with spoken commands can be done either by using your basic built-in voice command system (already in 2008 MINIs) or by setting up Siri or Alexa for an intelligent assistance. To activate the voice control in both cases, just long press the sound button on the steering wheel. 

If you’re lucky to be equipped with the Navigation Plus pack you don’t have to bother searching strict commands, as your MINI Connected is able to understand your natural speech. And yes, having Siri or Alexa you can ask just about anything – from route and entertainment related questions, through weather conditions and driving comfort in general, up to the distance from the Earth to the Moon :)

See how to set up Siri on your MINI Cooper: 

See how to set up Amazon Alexa on your MINI Cooper: 

MINI steering wheel buttons

Naturally, the driver's favorite couldn’t be missed. Probably the easiest and safest way to control the volume of your audio or answer and reject phone calls is through the right hand side steering wheel controls. Apart from letting you do that you can also use the buttons for going through the radio stations, activating Siri or scrolling up and down your MINI Connected menu options. 

The number and placement of your buttons will depend on your MINI’s production year. However, you can find them on all cars with the MINI Connected system and even those made in 2004.

MINI steering wheel buttons

MINI touchscreen

The touchscreen control appeared on MINIs in 2017, finally giving drivers mobile-intuitive navigation through the entire MINI Connected system. Take a quick look:

Its latest 2021 version has full touch functionality with touch sensitive buttons and piano black finish, as well as menu and widgets customizability. What also adds a premium feel to the center instrument is the LED decor ring changing its color depending on various events – such as the climate control.

MINI Navigation Pack Plus – TOP 5 features

So much has been said about the means of controlling the MINI Connected interface, but what about the actual features you can navigate around? The latest MINI Navigation Pack Plus has dozens of possibilities – almost too much to explain in what’s supposed to be a Google-friendly article ;) So let’s go through the top 5.

MINI Cooper Apple CarPlay

Whether you want to use your familiar Apple Maps navigation, text your friend through WhatsApp or play your favourite album from iTunes, MINI Cooper Apple CarPlay allows you to do so. After activating it on your MINI you’ll be able to use a host of your iPhone apps – including Apple Maps, Google Maps, Waze, Spotify, Stitcher, Tidal, Pandora and Audible – right on your central display. 

Don’t have Apple CarPlay in your pre 2017 MINI? You can always retrofit it! See how.

NOTE: The touchscreen functionality won’t be available in the MINI CarPlay retrofit, but you’ll still be able to navigate all features via voice control, steering wheel buttons and the control knob.

Check out how to use MINI Cooper Apple CarPlay:

Unfortunately for smartphone users there’s no OEM MINI Cooper Android Auto functionality, however with BimmerTech’s help you can add an Android Auto retrofit even to your 2011+ MINI!

MINI Connected Apps

CarPlay is a go-to system indeed, but no, it’s not your only option to use your phone apps ;) In fact, MINI has its own MINI Connected integration feature that gives you the possibility to access your music streaming apps (Pandora, Spotify, Stitcher), social networking (Glympse, Foursquare, Twitter), audiobooks and more on your display. Check what you should do to use it:

MINI Connected Remote Services

Thanks to MINI Connected Remote Services and activated MINI App on your phone you can interact with your car via a mobile device no matter the distance. Amongst others you can:

- display vehicle status on your phone
- see where the car is located
- how much range you have left or what’s your mileage
- lock and unlock your car remotely
- send nav directions from a phone to the car 
- start your engine remotely
- allow for Alexa integration

MINI Connected Alexa Integration

That being said, setting up Alexa on your MINI will allow you for much more than just in-car multimedia control. This intelligent voice assistant will take care of managing your shopping list, controlling your smart home devices, changing climate settings and more.

MINI Connected Real Time Traffic Information 

Drivers often think of an in-car map as a less lovable and poorly updated cousin of Google or Apple based navigation. Fortunately, thanks to the Real Time Traffic Information sent directly to your MINI Cooper screen, your maps are filled with the latest traffic updates allowing you to spot and bypass sudden bottlenecks.

If on top of that you conduct annual map updates your MINI Cooper navigation will show you the latest routes, plenty of new points of interest around you and current speed limit information – so basically iron out all the nav mistakes which appear even on your favourite phone navigation.

Wondering how to update MINI Cooper navigation maps? Here you’ll find out everything.

MINI Connected Concierge Services

And if suddenly you find yourself in an unknown place struggling to book a hotel room, access flight information or search for a recommended restaurant, the MINI Concierge Services will do that for you any time of the day or night, 7 days a week. Just select the Concierge service in your MINI Connected menu and you’ll be redirected to the assistant, who will then transmit the address into your nav.

How to update MINI Connected?

All sounds great, but how to turn your MINI Connected into this state-of-the-art system if you don’t already have one? Well, if your car is equipped with an NBT Evo ID5/ID6 or ENTRY NAV head unit, a quick MINI Connected software update is actually all it takes to bring a complete overhaul to your central display.

Not sure what head unit you have? Decode your VIN and we’ll send you your car specifications.

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MINI Connected software update

We’re talking here of a much cleaner, modern and premium interface packed with all of the above features. Which of course doesn’t mean cluttered ;)  Thanks to the new life widgets coming with MINI Connected update you’ll be able to choose which ones you want to display in the center and give others lesser priority, so in fact with more functions available, this interface will become easier to navigate. 

MINI Connected software update

Cars that support MINI Cooper CarPlay will also get the possibility to unlock its full-screen mode and use the map apps, messages and more across the whole MINI display.

And what about the update process itself? There’s no need to bother going to your dealer, cause at BimmerTech we can do it all remotely in 1 hour. All you’ll need is a coding cable and a scheduled session with one of our technicians who will ensure the process goes clearly and smoothly.

Guess we covered the most important facts about MINI Connected, but if you’d like to know anything more, leave us a comment down below. We’ll gladly get to know your thoughts and ideas!

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