BMW will become the first carmaker to enable its customers to offer a fully digital car key, using Apple’s iPhone. Stored securely in the Apple Wallet for iPhone, car owners can just tap to unlock and easily get going by placing the iPhone in the smartphone tray and pushing the start button.
The owner can also share access with up to 5 friends including a configurable car access option for young drivers which restricts top speed, engine power, maximum radio volume and more. Management of access can be done from inside the car as well as through Apple Wallet.
Additional features of the new Digital Key include storage in the Secure Element of the iPhone; power reserve for iPhone where car keys will still function for up to 5 hours if the iPhone turns off due to low battery; and Apple Watch compatibility.
BMW is a leading contributor
The BMW Group is a leading contributor to the Digital Key standard. It was quick to recognise the potential of smartphones as digital keys – if done right. Standardizing the Digital Key contributes to user experience, security and availability in smartphone models all of which were key to the BMW Group strategy for the Digital Key right from the start.
Apple and BMW have been working closely with the Car Connectivity Consortium to press ahead with the establishment of global standards. The Digital Key specification 2.0 for NFC was released in May 2020 while the next generation of Digital Key using Ultra Wideband technology is already well underway.
The BMW Digital Key for iPhone will be available in 45 countries for a broad range of models manufactured after July 1, 2020. Compatible iPhone models will be iPhone XR, iPhone XS or newer and Apple Watch Series 5 or newer.
The BMW Digital Key follows other firsts for the brand, such as integration of the iPod in their vehicles and the first manufacturer to offer wireless CarPlay connectivity.
Smart Routes for BMW EVs
Also announced at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference recently was Smart Routes for BMW electric vehicles in Apple Maps. This is a new feature (to be available in the new i4 in 2021) that will make it easier than ever for CarPlay users to take BMW electric vehicles on longer journeys by automatically taking into account when and where to charge.
Drivers can plan their trip in advance on their iPhone or simply enter their destination through Apple CarPlay when they get into the car. Either way, Apple Maps will pick the optimal route based on electric range and the locations of charging stations along the way.