Hacking the cell connection of Audi MMI (2013 model)
After buying an Audi Q5 in large part based on the quality of the MMI (navigation/Google maps/car control system), I became convinced it would be hard for me to live without once the promotional period for cell data (6 months on T-mobile) expired. The key things I wanted:
- Real time traffic: super useful for at a glance routing.
- Voice (Google) searches for destinations (online destinations in Audi terms).
It turns out that #1 isn't even served from cell data at all. The traffic data comes from the Sirius satellite service, which expired before the T-Mobile promo did. I was able to find out that Audi includes the traffic portion of the subscription, without any of the radio. This is perfect for a geek who can get any radio I want from my cell phone (Google Music/Pandora/TuneIn Radio).
For #2, I would need an activated SIM. I stumbled across a thread on an audi forum where other folks were discussing how to keep this functionality without paying T-Mobile 30 bucks a month (which seems unreasonable to me). Luckily, there's a super easy solution, which is also cheap! Truphone.com offers a prepaid SIM which is pay as you go (as opposed to pre-paid monthly). As it turns out, you can simply order a SIM, preload it with 15 bucks or whatever you decide, and you're good to go. All you need to do is set your APN to truphone.com, and leave username and password blank. Because Truphone is an MVNO on T-Mobile, the Audi has no issues using it for its cell connection.
The best part of all of this is after 3 months of using this sim, I have paid about .50 in usage (!!!). If you happen to have a modern Audi MMI, I highly recommend checking out truphone and saving a few bucks. The only catch is that you might not want to turn on wifi sharing on this SIM, as it would use a lot more than the voice queries. I've opted to simply use my phone as a wifi hotspot if it is ever needed (ironically, this is free on T-Mobile with my Nexus 4).