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BMW announces a secure and easy way to use an iPhone as a car key

23 June 2020

At the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference, it was announced that BMW will become the first carmaker to enable its customers to use an iPhone as a fully digital car key.

BMW was the first to integrate an iPod in their vehicles, first to offer wireless CarPlay and now first to introduce support for BMW Digital Key stored securely in Apple Wallet for iPhone.

BMW Digital Key for the iPhone

The upcoming BMW Digital Key for the iPhone will enable customers to just tap to unlock and easily get going by placing the iPhone in the smartphone tray and pushing the start button. Setup of the Digital Key can be done through the BMW Smartphone App. The car owner can also share access with up to 5 friends including a configurable car access option for young drivers which restricts top speed, horse 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 your iPhone and access through Apple Wallet

- Power reserve for iPhone where car keys will still function for up to five hours if the iPhone turns off due to low battery 

- Ability to share access with up to 5 friends via iMessage

- Apple Watch compatibility

BMW is a leading contributor to the Digital Key standard

The BMW Group was quick to recognise the potential of smartphones as digital keys – if done right. Standardising 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 (CCC) to press ahead with the establishment of global standards. The Digital Key specification 2.0 for NFC has been released in May 2020 while the next generation of Digital Key using Ultra Wideband technology is already well underway. 

Broad availability for BMW models and iPhones

BMW announces the availability of Digital Key for iPhone in 45 countries for a broad range of models: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, X5, X6, X7, X5M, X6M and Z4 if manufactured after July 1 2020. Compatible iPhone models will be iPhone XR, iPhone XS or newer and Apple Watch Series 5 or newer.

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