BMW and Apple announce auto keys on iPhones

Thursday, 25 Jun, 2020

The new BMW Digital Key will lock and unlock the auto - and also start the vehicle.

At the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference that was held earlier today, it was announced that BMW will be the first-ever auto company to offer its customer with a feature that will them use the iPhone as a digital vehicle key in upcoming IOS 14.

CarKey will allow the driver to share the virtual key with friends via its iMessage messaging app.

So what is Apple Car Key? Setting up CarKey is done through the Wallet app, with additional setup actions performed in BMW's own smartphone app or referring to instructions listed on the infotainment system.

While it will only work with one auto at launch, it allows you to unlock and turn on your vehicle without having the physical key that came with your auto on you.

That's what Apple says. To manage who can access the key, they may go to the app or inside the auto. This feature will first be available for BMW in the fully electric BMW i4 launching next year.

So just how does a digital key work?

Following this, almost every single model from the 1 Series right on through to the Z4 (with a few exceptions) manufactured after July 1, 2020 will support the feature.

When you want to unlock your vehicle, you just tap your iPhone to your car's door handle like you would an Apple Pay terminal. That hardware ensures that the encryption keys that make the phone or watch talk to the vehicle stay on the actual device. When your device is recognized and verified by the auto, the doors unlock.

Also, the company has announced some more features that will make life behind steering wheel a tad easier.

The Digital Key specification 2.0 for NFC has been released in May 2020, while the next generation is already well underway. Opt for the latter and you can control the car's top speed, horsepower, maximum radio volume and more, which is ideal if you're letting your kids take the new 5 series for a spin. Access management can be done through the Apple wallet or from inside the vehicle.

Other automakers now part of the Car Connectivity Consortium that Apple is leading to develop the digital key technology include General Motors, FCA, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Volvo and Volkswagen. Just tap on the key in Wallet, then tap the - button in the upper-right corner of the screen.

'With each key you share, you can set options like a restricted driver profile.