Why and How To Update Your BMW's Navigation Maps in 2020?

Paul Smith
Jan 13, 2020

Why and How To Update Your BMW's Navigation Maps?

There was a time when regular oil changes and a new set of tires once in a while was all the routine maintenance a vehicle needed. But to keep a modern, iDrive-toting BMW at its best, there's a little more to it.

Whether updating your iDrive software or uploading the latest maps to the factory navigation system, keeping your BMW's iDrive up-to-date should be a regular task, just like maintaining any other part of your vehicle.

In fact, BMW recommend updating your navigation system's maps twice a year, or annually at the very least.

To check the map version in your BMW, go to your iDrive navigation view, open the settings menu and scroll down to Navigation system version. You will see the region, map version and year of your current map. If it's more than a year old, it's time to update.


Why update your navigation maps for 2020?

Part of the reason is the fact that roads are always changing. New roads are being built, old roads are being closed or rerouted, two-way streets are being turned into one-way streets. In some areas, up to 40% of the road network can change from one year to the next.

The last thing you want your navigation system to do is send you down a street that hasn't existed for five years, or let you spend an hour weaving through an unfamiliar town when there's a shiny new bypass that could cut your journey time in half. BMW adds 142,000 miles of new roads to its maps every year, so updating your maps means your navigation system is going to work a lot better.

But BMW is also working hard to improve its map data. Earlier versions can include mistakes (even Google Maps has a few streets that exist in principle, but in reality are just empty fields), and each subsequent map version is going to iron out more of these issues.

What's more, BMW adds 300,000 points of interest to its maps each year, including restaurants, gas stations and attractions. If you're in an unfamiliar area and want to stop off for a bite to eat, having the latest maps on your iDrive will make it easier to use the interactive map to find out what options you have around you.

What is the BMW interactive map?

Points of interest make it easy to navigate using the BMW interactive map. Instead of entering the exact address of your destination, the interactive map lets you point to an area and quickly find nearby points of interest. It's ideal if you don't remember quite where that restaurant is, or want to find somewhere to stop off in an area you don't know well.

With the navigation screen open, use the crosshairs icon on the menu to enter interactive mode. Then use the iDrive controller to move the on-screen target to the desired area. Pressing the iDrive controller will give you the option of seeing a list of nearby points of interest, and setting any of them as your destination. With so many new points of interest being added with each map version, updating to the latest available map is going to make it more likely you'll find the places you're looking for.

How to update your BMW maps?

Older iDrive versions stored map data on a DVD that could be switched out for a update. The latest BMWs, however, store the map data on an internal hard drive, which can be updated either by uploading the latest map direct to the iDrive or (in some vehicles) automatically updated over-the-air by BMW.

In vehicles that require manually updating your navigation's map data, the process is simple. The map data is loaded to a USB stick which can be plugged in to the USB port in your BMW's glove compartment. The system will automatically detect that there is a new map available to install on the iDrive. You may be prompted to enter a BMW-issued FSC activation code with your iDrive controller to begin installation. Everything is done through the USB port, meaning you won't need to use any BMW iDrive coding software.

When the process is finished, you'll be good to go.

BimmerTech offer navigation map updates for BMWs with the CIC, NBT or NBT Evo head units. Available for North America, Europe, Australia / New Zealand and other regions, for vehicles running the Premium, Motion, Next, Move or other navigation versions.


Business vs Professional navigation

BMWs have long come with a choice of navigation version: the somewhat more spartan Business navigation, and the more extensive Professional navigation. In addition to superior hardware and greater multimedia capabilities, BMW's Professional navigation option gives better route-planning and navigation features.

The most noticeable difference is the map interface itself. Professional navigation has always included a 3D map option, which can making finding your bearings when driving easier. Business navigation only offers a simpler, bird's-eye view look, which some find less intuitive. Professional navigation is also generally more reliable in areas of patchy GPS coverage, as it supplements the positional readings from the GPS signal with internal measurements of your car's movement.

Both systems, however, rely on similar underlying map data, meaning we are able to update your road maps whichever system you have in your vehicle.

All BimmerTech map updates include a USB stick preloaded with the latest BMW map data for your vehicle and region, and an FSC activation code to use during installation. You can purchase a one time update or go for extended coverage with 2-3 subsequent updates. For more information, contact us to confirm what we can offer for your BMW.

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