BMW introduces built-in dashcams following software update

German carmaker U-turns on much-criticised Apple CarPlay charges

BMW’s software update has turned its car’s parking cameras into dashcams. Photograph: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BMW has introduced a new software update for its cars that uses surround-view parking cameras. The update for the latest iDrive 7.0 system, which is fitted to the 3, 7, and 8 Series as well as the X5 and X7, now features the new BMW Drive Recorder.

This little bit of software turns your parking cameras into dashcams, meaning that you can manually use them to record short bursts of footage that can then be emailed or shared on social media. More importantly, the system is always-on, and records in a 40-second loop. That loop will be automatically saved in the case of an accident, saving the 20 seconds before the crash, and the 20 seconds after.

Shoot videos

The videos can be viewed through the infotainment screen, or can be downloaded on to a USB stick as needed. “Drivers can therefore shoot videos while driving through spectacular scenery, for example, or performing impressive manoeuvres on the race track, and then send them to their mobile device and share them,” BMW says of the system.

While this has been going on, BMW has also quietly dropped its much-criticised demand that drivers pay it a regular licence fee to be able to use Apple CarPlay in their cars. Since 2016, BMW had been charging owners either $80 (€72) per month, or a $300 one-off fee (for a 20-year licence) to use the phone-connection software. CarPlay, when specified, will now be free to use on current and future BMW models.


“BMW is always looking to satisfy our customers’ needs and this policy change is intended to provide them with a better ownership experience,” a company spokesperson said.

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring