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Monday, November 24, 2008

Fixed! Blackberry Bluetooth Connectivity to BMW iDrive

A little over a week ago I reported some strange behaviors when attempting to connect my Blackberry 8800 phone via Bluetooth to the BMW iDrive system on my BMW M3. (link here) The symptoms were mainly around the Blackberry 8800 thinking that it was still connected to the the BMW iDrive system, even when the car was off and I was far away from the vehicle (think miles) -- the Blackberry kept flashing the "blue light" indicating that it was still connected to the BMW.

While I did find a work-around, it was still frustrating when it occurred because once it was in this condition, there was only one way to get out of it -- reboot the device with Bluetooth turned off. I could not connect to any other handsfree or Bluetooth devices in the meantime.

So, I searched for a solution. Usually when these types of problems happen -- I look to the manufacturer's website to see if an upgrade is available. I visited the Blackberry RIM website remembering that they had released their RIM Blackberry Device Software v4.5 some time ago. However, it still was not available for the network my phone was on, AT&T.

While it was not authorized specifically for my Blackberry device, I installed a Rogers Wireless version of the v4.5 operating system on the 8800. (here's how link) Fortunately, for me it went flawlessly and now, in addition to a refreshed and more reliable look on the 8800 with the v4.5 OS, it was time to test out the compatibility with the BMW iDrive system.

First off, even after the operating system upgrade -- the Blackberry stilled maintained the device pairing with the BMW iDrive system and connected immediately. I placed a call and it went through. Now it was time for the real test -- I turned off the car -- the Blackberry detected immediately the that connection to the BMW system was terminated. I was in luck.

Not yet ready to call it a victory -- I went throughout the day and was able to connect and disconnect from the BMW iDrive system 4 separate times. That was good enough for me -- I was satisfied that the connectivity problem was fixed!

However, I had one small problem remaining. For some reason the phonebook transfer function was not working properly. The phonebook on the BMW iDrive system was remaining empty. I even tried to manually use the transfer phonebook feature -- but it still failed to send.

Then I noticed that my contacts in the Blackberry were pretty large -- over 250, with some of them from old jobs of 8+ years ago -- something I wanted to keep, but did not need handy on a daily basis. I then cut the phonebook down to 110 or so contacts and reconnected the phone to the iDrive system. The phonebook automatically was transferred and I could use the entire features of the iDrive system! Great news, even though it appears there is some artifical limit to the number of contacts that can be transferred from your Blackberry's phonebook to the BMW iDrive system.

In closing, for anyone that is having issues with connectivity or phonebook transfers between their Blackberry and the BMW iDrive system, I recommend two things:

1. Upgrade to the latest version of the Blackberry device software, regardless if you are on Vodaphone, Orange, AT&T, Verizon, Rogers Wireless, Sprint, or T-Mobile. (If you're on AT&T, here is how you can: link.) This will solve connectivity problems.

2. If you experience problems with your phonebook transfers, try shrinking your contact size down to 110 or so entries. In my case, 250+ were simply too much for the Bluetooth transfer to handle.

Good luck! If this worked for you, please let me know with a comment below!

This may also apply to the following Blackberry devices:
BlackBerry Storm 9530
BlackBerry Bold 9000
BlackBerry Curve 8300 Series
BlackBerry Curve 8330
BlackBerry Curve 8320
BlackBerry Curve 8310
BlackBerry Curve 8300
BlackBerry Pearl 8100 Series
Blackberry 8100
Blackberry 8110
Blackberry 8120
Blackberry 8130
Blackberry 8220
BlackBerry 8800 Series
BlackBerry 8830
BlackBerry 8820
BlackBerry 8800
BlackBerry 8700 Series
BlackBerry 8700c
BlackBerry 8700g
BlackBerry 8700r
BlackBerry 8703e
BlackBerry 8705g
BlackBerry 8707g
BlackBerry 7130 Series
BlackBerry 7130c
BlackBerry 7130e
BlackBerry 7130g
BlackBerry 7100 Series
BlackBerry 7100g
BlackBerry 7100i
BlackBerry 7200 Series
BlackBerry 7250
BlackBerry 7290
BlackBerry 7520
Blackberry 7105t
Blackberry 7100x
Blackberry 7100v
Blackberry 7100t
Blackberry 7100r
Blackberry 7100i
Blackberry 7100g
Blackberry 7100
BlackBerry 6780
BlackBerry 6750
BlackBerry 6720
BlackBerry 6710
BlackBerry 6510
Blackberry 6280
BlackBerry 6230
BlackBerry 6210
BlackBerry 5810
Blackberry 7780
Blackberry 7750
Blackberry 7730
Blackberry 7520
Blackberry 7510
Blackberry 7290
Blackberry 7280
Blackberry 7270
Blackberry 7250
Blackberry 7230
Blackberry 7210
Blackberry 8707v
Blackberry 8707g
Blackberry 8707
Blackberry 8705g
Blackberry 8703e
Blackberry 8700v
Blackberry 8700r
Blackberry 8700g
Blackberry 8700f
Blackberry 8700c
Blackberry 8700
BlackBerry 8330


Anonymous said...

I'm also having problems transferring my Blackberry address book to my 2006 BMW 530ix. I have a BB 8310 with Version4.2.2.163 installed. I probably can transfer contacts up to the letter "P" then I get bits and pieces as it doesn't have enough memory capacity. Not very impressive for a $80,000 car. Tom

Kenneth Libeson said...

As the systems guy for one of our users, I just worked with an ATT Bold and his BMW 335i. We were able to get his address book to sync with 220 contacts. The transfer contacts action fails if we try to push them from the Blackberry, but I believe that is mentioned as not being allowed by the car kit. They have to be "pulled" from the car kit and not "pushed" from the device.

Jaunty said...

I have a Bold and just got an Oct 2007 E92 with iDrive & Bluetooth. The Bold address book would not transfer. I cleared out some old contacts and it did, so thanks for the tip.

It is a pain though that you have to delete contacts, which means non essential but nice to have old contacts are also now deleted from Outlook on the PC.

Lisa Rap said...

My iDrive has totally freaked out - the radio won't play, the screen is locked, and the SOS system is disabled. My helpful dealer has blamed my Blackberry 8830 World edition, saying it is not "supported" and causes these problems. After reading this, I think they are making things up. Have you heard of such a thing?

1 said...

I haven't tried this yet but within the Bluetooth setup on the BB 8330 there is an option to specify All Entries/Hotlist only/Selected Categories only.

This may help eliminate the need to delete contacts in your addressbook.

Scary part is I have 1400+ entries in my addressbook. I'm not about to cull that down to less than 250.

1 said...

Good news - I have been able to push my complete addressbook (1400+ entries) to iDrive. It took a few minutes but after that I could see all the contacts. And it didn't crash iDrive on me. :) Hurray!

Rik said...

How did you push 1400+ entries? I Have exactly the same problem here...

Rik said...

How did you push 1400+ contacts... I Have the smae problem no contacts are in the phonebook of car... Already followed all manuals that I could find online..

Rik said...

How did you push over 1400+ contacts?? I have the same problem. No contacts are transfered to the phonebook of the car?? Already tried all manuals that I could find online.

Anonymous said...

it's a setting on the BB itself. nothing to do with iDrive. in BB go to BT options and you will see Contacts Transfer. you have a few options there.

Seems like after updating my navi - it stops around letter M for me. I'm not sure if it was related to the navi upgrade or not. or selecting a different contact transfer option on the BB BT option.

i have since turned it off as i find the addressbook function pretty useless with an addressbook that size. and the transfer of the addressbook slows down the BT sync process with iDrive.

That sync process is so annoying as it basically locks up the idrive while syncing. In some cases the radio could be quite loud from before and i can't turn down the volume for what seems like a few minutes.

it seems to sync faster now with the contact list transfer disabled. but still takes longer than the Acura.

hope that helps.