Well everyone, I received my Media Gateway kit yesterday and for the most part, it's a huge step in the right direction! Now, instead of having to connect my phone via cable to the car's stereo, i simply press "play" on my Pandora app, and then this kit takes over and channels my music into the stero system. The phone can stay in my coat pocket from that point forward.
A few observations:
Connecting my phone and its music in this manner, means losing the ability to skip songs via the steering wheel or radio buttons. When I had my phone connected via cable, I could still accomplish this. When using the media gateway however, I must use the phone itself to skip tracks. It's a minor inconvenience as I don't skip much, and it still certainly pales in comparison to the hassle of having to connect my phone via cable every single time. You will also lose the ability to see your song information on the radio display.
Fortunately, the volume buttons on the steering wheel still work to control the volume. I initially had a problem with the volume being too quiet on the streaming music, so I would respond by turning the volume up. But then if I changed sources to the radio, for example, suddenly it would be TOO loud. As it happens, the AUX mode on the BMW's radio comes with its own volume adjustment. When in AUX mode, you should see one of the radio buttons on the bottom labelled with "VOL ADJ" or some such; i adjusted this up a few ticks and now my volume matches other sources perfectly.
This device itself is tiny; it's smaller than a box of tic tacs. The cords required to hook it up to the aux jack, and the power cord for charging, are the real problems. It's easy enough to tuck all this away into the storage tray next to the inputs, but I'm going to explore options involving routing the cords underneath the trim and to an out-of-the-way place where I can also keep the gateway. Once it's been set up, there's no need to ever touch it again so it need not be accessible.
Phone calls are handled the same as before; if you are streaming music via this device and you receive a call, the music quits out and the car's bluetooth takes over. When the call is done, the music returns with no intervention needed from the driver.
All in all, despite losing a few minor things, the overall improvement was well worth the $50.