Waze maps in your BMW – definitive guide


Jan 20, 2023

Waze maps in your BMW – definitive guide

Every driver knows that reliable navigation is a must nowadays. Hours-long traffic jams, major car accidents or year-round road works. All of those are just unnecessary delays, right? Let’s face it: reality on the road changes really fast, leaving old and outdated solutions no match to real-time updated apps. So, have you already considered switching to Waze maps?

What are Waze maps?

There are plenty of programs that serve thousands of people as navigation today. That is why we present to you one of the front-runners: Waze maps. It is a community-driven navigation app created by an Israeli company which uses real-time data, retrieved from the users accounts, to provide you with the best route to the destination of choice. 

Waze maps include information on accidents, traffic jams, speed traps, construction zones and many other obstacles that could slow down a driver. Waze is a highly customizable app with roughly 150 million active users. As a company, it was acquired by Google back in 2013.

The Waze app boasts multiple original features including speed cameras along the way, tagged police road-checks and accident alerts. The loyal Waze maps fan base consists of over 8 million users actively reporting around 40 million incidents per month. This significantly changes how we perceive the whole driver's community today. So, would you like to know how to swiftly switch to Waze maps? 

How to use Waze in BMW?

First of all, you’ll need to be able to connect and display your smartphone's screen on the BMW built-in cockpit. Unfortunately, you won’t find such a feature available in many BMW models, and even then – it requires paid professional preparation. Don’t worry though, you can still do it all by yourself! The whole process is rather straightforward and it consists of 5 simple steps:

  1. Download and install Waze maps on your smartphone

    Let’s start with the most intuitive and easy-to-make steps, ok? First, download Waze maps on your smartphone just like you would any other app. Chillax, it is completely free – both on the Apple store and Google Play store. Now, all you have to do is to establish a connection between the smartphone and your BMW on-board infotainment system. 

    To do so however, you’ll need to prepare your BMW in the first place. The good thing is that when it comes to apps – no additional program will be required. Current iOS and Android system versions already have all of the essential codes implemented inside. Just remember to keep your smartphone system updated and you’ll be all good. 

    Alrighty. Let’s assume you’ve managed to accomplish all of the above. So now what? Are you all set? Will you be able to see Waze maps on your BMW’s multimedia on-board screen? Unfortunately not yet, but you are getting there.

  2. Prepare your BMW system

    Now, let’s focus on the on-board cockpit of your BMW – after all that is our main area of interest, isn’t it? Some of the newest BMW models (with iDrive 7 or 8) already have built-in programs (CarPlay or Android Auto) which allow wireless connection between smartphones and on-board screens. Ok, but what if you are the owner of an older BMW model? No worries – BimmerTech is here to help!

    If you desire to tweak and boost up your car’s infotainment system with your smartphone apps – you’ll need an additional device. Not many know that you can find dedicated modules tailored to the BMW infotainment system that are very similar to the factory setups known from the newest series. An example would be our CarPlay MMI Prime Retrofit for BMWs and MINIs, which is fully compatible both with iOS and Android and can be implemented in 95% of the BMW models created after 2008.

  3. Connect your smartphone via USB or pair it with the BMW system

    Ok. You’ve met all of the requirements stated above. So now what? The answer is pretty simple: it’s pairing time! Simply start by enabling the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection in your smartphone and then find it through CarPlay or Android auto – on your BMW cockpit screen. Our retrofits are very versatile. That is why you can also connect your device via USB cable.

    If you are not sure how to properly and safely pair your smartphone with the iDrive system in a BMW car, check out our video below:

  4. Tap on the Waze maps icon and hit the road ;)

    From now on – you should be good to go. That is of course if you carefully followed all of the steps stated above. However, before you’ll start enjoying Waze maps it is worth investing a minute or two into the details.

How to control Waze maps?

How to control Waze maps?

At this point you may wonder, how does it all look in practice? The answer is: pretty smooth. you can access Waze maps in 3 ways:

  • through the BMW multimedia touchscreen (only original factory built-in CarPlays)
  • with dials and buttons (including those on the steering wheel). 
  • thanks to a voice assistant like Siri or Android assistant (has to be enabled)

Waze maps features

As a community-based traffic and navigation app, Waze maps provide a range of interesting features. In November 2022, Waze released a bunch of updates providing: tagged friends on the map, best gas prices in your area and music listening options. However there is much more!

Waze speedometer

This is pretty useful. The speedometer appears on the map whenever you navigate. Waze driving directions use GPS constantly-updated position to calculate your speed. When you reach the area's limit, the speedometer will notify you – by turning red.

If you don’t see it, you can simply turn it on by following these three steps:

  1. Tap My Waze;
  2. then Settings -> Tap Speedometer; 
  3. Turn on the speedometer.

Waze alerts 

Without a doubt, the most lauded features are Waze police alerts along your way and the speed cams tagging option. However, that's only the tip of the iceberg. Waze maps offer a ton of different alerts and that is why it is the choice of more than 150 million active users every month.

Let's be honest – some alerts are more necessary than others. No worries though. You can easily turn them off by locating all the necessary switches – controlling such alerts and tags like:

  • Police operations;
  • Speed cams;
  • Traffic jams;
  • Hazards;
  • Road constructions;
  • Closures;
  • Crashes;
  • Wazers, (fellow users of the Waze app);
  • Traffic layers (color filters);
  • Map chats; 
  • Road goodies (others). 

Waze map editing

This feature is a really interesting one. Have you ever heard a story that someone's navigation guided them through an f.e. non-existent road? Maybe you’ve just discovered a new alley? Well, Waze maps allow you to actively influence the map's info.

Thanks to its editor mode, Waze maps are constantly maintained by a community of over 500K map editors (10K monthly active users). You can join them or become a translator and help non-English speaking users. Pretty neat huh?

Waze offline maps

Even though counterintuitive, in some conditions it is not as pointless as it sounds. Going offline with Waze maps can be a fairly wise solution while heading abroad or going completely off the road.

In such conditions internet access often happens to be gravely limited e.g. by roaming restrictions or coverage. However, we generally do not recommend going offline, because it simply means losing access to the precious real-time updates, fresh traffic information and incident alerts.

If you need to go offline, start by configuring the route. Set the desired destination in the first place – when you’re still connected to the internet. Once you'll define where you want to go, you can go offline. The Waze app will continue to provide you with basic navigation – it will result in reducing the user's experience to the bare minimum. 

In such a case, Waze can easily be any other competitor’s replacement. Speaking of which, let's check how the Waze app presents itself – compared to Apple and Google solutions.

Waze vs Google Maps in BMW

Waze vs Google Maps in BMWThe differences between both of those products are actually not that easy to establish. Both of these apps are useful and reliable. Both of them provide info regarding traffic jams around you and both of them will require Android Auto or CarPlay in your BMW. However, as always, the devil is in the details.

Waze is a community-based app, while Google Maps is more data-driven. One is mainly designed for car navigation, while the other focuses on a much wider spectrum – including bike lanes and best walking routes. 

Waze is definitely better at finding most optimal routes thanks to its community-driven alert system. It will inform you about such challenges like speed cams located along the way or police operations set in the area. It will also allow you to avoid traffic jams, roadworks and temporal constrictions. 

Google Maps, on the other hand, stands out with a built-in "Explore" feature allowing you to search for events, reviews, photos, etc. In the end it's all about your tastes and preferences. So if you are wondering: "Waze or Google Maps?" – then you have to choose on your own.

Waze vs Apple Maps in BMW

Waze vs Apple Maps in BMWCarPlay is available in most of the currently used iPhones. ​That is why, Apple Maps will be the easiest navigation app to use for many BMW owners. The top benefits of this app are definitely “Look Around” and “Pit Stops” as well as several options for navigation like: map directions for pedestrians, bikers or daily commuters.

Thanks to “Look Around” you can see both images and a map view of your location, which can be very helpful if you get lost. “Pit Stops” is pretty neat also. Why? It allows you to search for nearby fuel and repair stations as well as other attractions. 

Let's not forget that Waze still lacks integration with the BMW head-up display (HUD). This is still a weak point for many external solution providers. 

Let's face it, many drivers would never resign from the comfort of turn-by-turn directions and speed limits info displayed right before their eyes. That is why updating your built-in BMW navigation is a third way out. Since the Bavarians recommended performing such checkouts at least twice a year you better check out the BimmerTech BMW map update offer.

Want to know how Waze compares to BMW Maps? Find out here.

Waze update – how to perform?

This is actually really simple. You just have to update it – either through your Apple Store or Google Play store. First, make sure that you're connected to a Wi-Fi or cellular network. Once that's done, you'll see the Waze navigation app and live traffic application displayed on the screen. The updates come with many bug fixes and performance improvements.

What are the common Waze update problems?

Usually they’re meant to be repaired, however, from time to time – they result in unwanted chaos. In general Waze maps don’t have the best opinions on the web when it comes to successful updates.

At times, service can drop significantly below normal and the times will become much longer. Waze driving directions happen to be misleading sometimes. There were cases of Waze messing up the map directions, resulting in overextended routes. In 2022 Waze users also often complained that their map doesn’t update automatically when they change the route. 

Some comments also suggest that after an update, Waze occasionally is not able to pinpoint your exact location on the GPS. In the most drastic cases, the app wasn't able to connect with the GPS. 


Waze maps is a community-driven app recommended mainly for car drivers. Behind its well-designed sleek interface hides a ton of features like: police alerts, tagged speedcams and continuously optimized driving directions. The Waze app has it all.

Against the backdrop of the competition, Waze maps definitely stands out with a high level of possible customization, a proactive community and immediate updates. The app itself is not without flaws. 

Waze maps will not provide useful data for pedestrians or bikers like Apple or Google Maps does. Moreover, Waze suffers from understandable limitations of community-driven solutions. Less users in the area – means less data on your screen. It is as simple as that. However, if you are navigating on a daily basis through big and hectic agglomerations – the Waze app is certainly for you.


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