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How to use Spotify on Apple CarPlay?


Feb 6, 2023

How to use Spotify on Apple CarPlay?

Have you seen Baby Driver by Edgar Wright? Exactly. Music makes us better drivers – no doubt about that. Some people blast it on their speakers 24/7, while others simply try to pass some time with it. No matter which one you are – it’s good to have some quality tracks onboard. Sure, radio or CDs are cool, however, they do not offer one thing: freedom. So why not choose Spotify on Apple CarPlay instead? What is it? How can you get it in your BMW? How does it work? No worries – BimmerTech has all the answers. Let’s buckle up and dive right into that stream. 


What is Spotify?

From 2018 and 2022, digitally owned music has become the second most common audio source in U.S. citizen's cars. If you haven't been living under a rock for the past 10 years, you should have at least a fraction of an idea of what an audio streaming service actually is. 

Spotify provides you with almost unlimited access to digital content from multiple artists around the world. Music albums; podcasts; audiobooks – you name it. Spotify allows you to discover new music, listen to your favorite tunes, and create and share playlists with your friends. Moreover, its basic plan is completely free. 

However, when it comes to music, freedom is a crucial aspect. Annoying ads, reduced access to artist discographies or limited skipping. All of those affect the overall experience. That is exactly why the additional features of Spotify Premium are a significant advantage over classical audio sources like good old radio or CD players. It’s worth considering, especially when you care about the vibe and undisturbed flow along the way.

Additional features and benefits of Spotify Premium include e.g.:

  • Ad-free listening – no ads interrupting your listening experience;
  • Offline access – you can download music in case you don't have internet access;
  • High-quality audio – bitrate of up to 320kbps;
  • Unlimited skips – skip as many songs as you want;
  • On-demand playback – no limited to shuffled playback.

Does Spotify work on Apple CarPlay?

Yes, it does. Apple CarPlay is a feature that allows you to connect your iPhone to BMW’s infotainment system and use many of your favorite apps on the iDrive screen. BMWs made after 2017 may already have the option on board, all they need is an Apple CarPlay activation procedure. The older Series however might need some additional upgrades. That is exactly why BimmerTech offers a BMW CarPlay retrofit for 2008+ vehicles. 

To be able to run Spotify on Apple CarPlay, you will need only two elements set in order: a Spotify app installed on your iPhone and a BMW iDrive system compatible with Apple CarPlay. It is as simple as that. If you have any doubts about how Apple CarPlay is supposed to work on your BMW’s built-in display – check out our YouTube video covering that topic: 

CarPlay & Android Auto retrofit for CIC - How to use? | CarPlay & Android Auto MMI Prime. 

Original BMW Apple CarPlay

At this point, you may wonder, which of the BMW models are equipped with the OEM Apple CarPlay. The answer is obvious: “not all of them”. It is only available for 2017 and newer models. That leaves many BMW owners without access to Spotify libraries. 

Here goes the complete list of all BMW’s models equipped with Apple Carplay. Check it out!

  • 2017–2022 BMW 1 Series e.g. F20, F21
  • 2017–2022 BMW 2 Series e.g. F22, F23, F45
  • 2017–2022 BMW 3 Series e.g. F30, F31, F34, F80, G20
  • 2017–2022 BMW 4 Series e.g. F32, F33, F36, F82, F83
  • 2017–2022 BMW 5 Series e.g. G30, G31, F90
  • 2017–2022 BMW 6 Series e.g. F06, F12, F13, G32
  • 2017–2022 BMW 7 Series e.g. G11, G12
  • 2021–2022 BMW 8 Series e.g. G14, G15, G16
  • 2018–2022 BMW X1 e.g. F48
  • 2018–2022 BMW X2 e.g. F39
  • 2017–2022 BMW X3 e.g. G01
  • 2017–2022 BMW X4 e.g. F26, G02
  • 2017–2022 BMW X5 e.g. F15, G05
  • 2017–2022 BMW X6 e.g. F16
  • 2021–2022 X5 M
  • 2021–2022 X6 M
  • 2018–2021 BMW i3
  • 2019–2020 BMW i8
  • 2019–2022 BMW Z4 G29
  • 2022 i4
  • 2022 iX

If your BMW has a factory built-in Apple CarPlay, you have to activate it first to use it. How do I do that? – you may ask. No worries, here goes our article, explaining thoroughly what is Apple CarPlay and why should you have it in your BMW

After activation, you should easily be able to see all of your favorite apps on the built-in display. Just remember to connect your iPhone first via Bluetooth! From there, you can simply tap the Spotify icon and use the app to browse and play whatever music you like. Pretty simple – isn’t it?

BMW CarPlay retrofit

BMW CarPlay retrofitNecessity is the Mother of Invention as they say. What do you do if you want Spotify running inside your BMW but it is not factory equipped with the Apple Carplay feature? You look for an alternative solution, right? Here is what you can do: you simply retrofit the feature by installing an aftermarket CarPlay system

After implementation, you can use the Spotify app precisely the same way as you would imagine. If it is on your phone – you’ll find it in CarPlay. The specific steps for installing and using a retrofit will vary depending on the model of your car and the option you choose. You are not sure what, where and how? No worries – BimmerTech has you covered. Check out our CarPlay MMI PRO Retrofit for BMWs and MINIs

MINI Connected & Apple CarPlay

Ah yes – the super-advanced MINI’s. We all know how nicely fitted they can be – especially recently. All thanks to the iDrive system equivalent – MINI Connected. Long story short – it allows a MINI’s owner to use the on-board screens just like a smartphone. Moreover, it allows for wireless connection. If you feel like learning more, we have prepared an additional article that covers the MINI Connected system and how it works

So, can I use the Spotify app on the built-in screen in my MINI? The answer is: yes, you can play and use it in any model of MINI – as long as it's equipped with MINI Connected and  Navigation. Just activate Apple CarPlay on your MINI onboard touchscreen and you are good to go. Not sure how to do it? You can always activate AppleCarPlay with our help

Other ways to play Spotify in your BMW / MINI

Even though not as convenient as we would like, it is actually possible to use the Spotify app in your MINI without CarPlay. How come? Well, MINI Connected offers a wireless connection, which in that case allows you to play your favorite “Driving Anthems” via Bluetooth while driving. The quality of this solution however leaves plenty of room for improvement. 

That is exactly why you should take a look at our Enhanced Bluetooth coding update. This extension provides you with much better sound quality (thanks to enabling USB connection – you don’t need a BMW Y cable adapter) and a pairing-up feature allowing you to use multiple devices simultaneously. 

How to add Spotify to Apple CarPlay?

The whole process is fairly simple. To add Spotify to your car's infotainment system, you will need the Spotify app installed on your iPhone and a car that is compatible with Apple CarPlay. Once the app is installed, you can connect your iPhone to your car's infotainment system using Apple CarPlay and customize the home screen. 

Follow the steps below to add Spotify to your infotainment system:

  1. Go to Settings > General on your iPhone;
  2. Tap CarPlay;
  3. Select your car then tap “Customize”;
  4. Add Spotify to show on CarPlay’s home screen.

How to search Spotify in the CarPlay version?

How to search Spotify in the CarPlay version?First, connect your iPhone to your car by using a cable or Bluetooth. Now, select "Apple CarPlay" on your BMW's display – the CarPlay home screen should be visible now. Next, tap the Spotify icon and once it is launched, use it to browse and play music, playlists, and podcasts. You can control playback and volume with the steering wheel buttons, iDrive controller, Siri voice commands, or if you have an OEM Apple CarPlay, the touchscreen.

Spotify Apple CarPlay is displayed mostly in four ways:

  1. Home - shows you an overview of music;
  2. Recently played - lists your recently played music;
  3. Search - allows you to search for your desired songs; 
  4. Library - presents you songs and playlists you’ve created or saved.

How to make Spotify default on CarPlay?

By default, the very first music app that launches in Apple CarPlay is obviously the Apple Music app. However, you can change it to Spotify. There is no need to shuffle between different apps when we desire a seamless and smooth experience, right? To make it happen, follow the steps provided below:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your car's infotainment system using a cable.
  2. On your car's display, select the "Apple CarPlay" option.
  3. The CarPlay home screen will appear on your car's display.
  4. Tap and hold the Spotify icon until it starts shaking.
  5. Drag the Spotify icon to the left side of the home screen.

The Spotify icon will now be the first icon on the home screen, and it will be the default music app that launches when you select the "Apple CarPlay" option on your car's display.

Note that making Spotify the default music app on Apple CarPlay will not affect the default music app on your iPhone. Your default music app will still be set to the app that you have selected in your iPhone's settings.

How to use Spotify on Apple CarPlay?

Apple CarPlay’s Spotify is quite similar to the version you know from your smartphone. The main difference would be control access through your car's infotainment system. Here is the list of control options available for Spotify:

  1. BMW’s built-in display (OEM Apple CarPlay version only)
  2. Your smartphone’s touchscreen
  3. Controls located on and around your steering wheel
  4. iDrive controller
  5. Voice control

Yes! You can use voice control on Spotify with “Siri”. The assistant is fast and smooth – and lots safer than pressing buttons on the infotainment screen or your iPhone. How can you evoke Siri inside your BMW? If the option has been enabled on your smartphone you can simply press and hold the "Voice Control" button on your car's dashboard or steering wheel and say "Hey Siri" to activate the feature. If you don’t know what kind of commands she will recognise, here are two basic sentences to try: 

  • "Play some music on Spotify";
  • "Play my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify."

The specific features and functions that are available on Spotify CarPlay will depend on the version of the app and the version of Apple CarPlay that you are using. In general, the app will offer a similar set of features to what is available on the smartphone home screen, with some limitations – due to the differences in the user interface and available controls.

How to adjust Spotify volume on CarPlay?

You can adjust the volume of the Spotify app on Apple CarPlay in a few different ways. It all depends on your BMW’s controls and settings. Here are a few options for adjusting the volume:

  1. Use the volume buttons on your iPhone - usually located on the side of the device.
  2. Use the volume controls on your car's dashboard - dashboard / physical knob or as buttons on the steering wheel / center console. 
  3. Use the volume controls on the CarPlay home screen - use the volume slider at the top right corner of the screen to adjust the volume of the Spotify app.
  4. Use the app's volume controls - to access the playback screen, tap the "Now Playing" bar at the bottom of the app's home screen. In general, you should be able to adjust the volume without the need to use the app's screen.

How to show the album art on Spotify CarPlay?

How to show the album art on Spotify CarPlay?Every music enthusiast knows how important an overall experience is with album covers. Spotify in CarPlay shows them most of the time on a built-in display while playing music. However, it sometimes might not work. What to do in such a situation? Try the following solutions below:

  • Restart your iPhone and your car's infotainment system.
  • Make sure your iPhone is running the latest version of iOS.
  • Make sure your car's infotainment system is up to date.
  • Disconnect and reconnect your iPhone from your car's infotainment system.
  • Uninstall and then re-install the Spotify app on your iPhone.

If you are still having trouble showing the album art after trying these steps, you may want to contact Spotify support for further assistance.

Spotify CarPlay Tips & Tricks

Use offline mode: If you are going to be driving in an area with no or limited internet access, use Spotify’s offline mode. It will save music for offline listening and provide you with music no matter what. To do this, go to the "Your Library" tab in the app, tap the "Settings" icon, and toggle the "Offline Mode" switch to the "On" position.

Use the "Now Playing" bar: The "Now Playing" bar at the bottom of the Spotify app's home screen shows the currently playing track, and it provides quick access to the app's playback controls and other features. You can use this bar to control playback, access your saved music and playlists, and discover new music.

Use USB instead of Bluetooth: Wireless connection often means lower sound quality. If you are a true music freak as we are, consider switching to a USB cable connected directly to iDrive for a much better sound quality. And to enhance your Spotify experience even further by integrating it with your iDrive, be sure to check out our BMW Apps Retrofit.

How to update Spotify on CarPlay?

How to update Spotify on CarPlay?To use the updated version of the Spotify app on your car's Apple CarPlay system, you will need to connect your iPhone to your car using a cable or Bluetooth and then launch the app on your BMW display. The updated version of the app should now be available for use.

The update process may take a few minutes to complete, depending on the size of the update and the speed of your internet connection. Once the update is finished, the Spotify app will be updated to the latest version.

To update the Spotify app on your iPhone follow these steps:

  1. Open the App Store app on your iPhone;
  2. Tap the "Updates" tab at the bottom of the screen;
  3. If an update is available for the Spotify app, you will see the "Update" button;
  4. Tap the button to start the update process;
  5. Enter your Apple ID password or use Touch ID or Face ID to confirm the update;
  6. Connect with Apple CarPlay;
  7. Wait a moment and enjoy the music!

Spotify not working on CarPlay – how to fix it?

Every program now and then doesn’t work as it is supposed to. It happens. Sometimes Apple CarPlay’s Spotify crashes, and sometimes it lags. The most frequent issues reported are the Spotify app not displaying on the Apple CarPlay home screen; unwanted song skipping and not syncing playlists. If you are having trouble updating the Spotify app or using it on your BMW Apple CarPlay system, you may want to try the following troubleshooting steps:

  • Restart your iPhone and your car's infotainment system;
  • Make sure your iPhone is running the latest version of iOS;
  • Make sure your car's infotainment system is up to date;
  • Disconnect and reconnect your iPhone from your car's infotainment system;
  • Uninstall and then re-install the Spotify app on your iPhone;
  • Clear Spotify cache or reinstall the Spotify app; 
  • Enable “allow CarPlay while locked”


Good audio on board is a priority. Apple CarPlay’s Spotify is an excellent solution for everyone who wants to enjoy the freedom of unlimited and undisturbed audio flow while driving. Spotify, allows you to control music through the built-in display and supports Siri voice control – making your journey in the end much safer. This streaming service is worth considering – even if you don’t listen to music that much. Don’t die out of boredom anymore while stuck in traffic – just get yourself the Spotify app on Apple CarPlay and enjoy the stream! 


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