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BMW first with Apple phone key

BMW first with Apple phone key
BMW first with Apple phone key
BMW first with Apple phone key

New tech will increase the number of cars that can be unlocked with your phone.

BMW has announced that it's first in the queue to use Apple's new digital car key technology.

New addition to Apple's iOS

This week, at Apple's World Wide Developers' Conference (WWDC) - an annual event that the tech giant uses to announce new products and new technology - one of the highlights was a digital key system for Apple's iOS phone operating system.

BMW, which claims it was the first car maker to integrate Apple's iPod music players (remember iPods?) into its cars, was quick to announce that it will be the first car maker to allow owners to store an encrypted digital 'car key' in the Apple Wallet app.

Use your phone to unlock and start your BMW

The system will be simple to use. An RFID sensor in the car will detect when the phone is being held next to the door handle and will unlock the car. To start the engine, you'll need to place the phone into the car's wireless charging tray, and then just press the stop-start button.

The key can be setup through BMW's smartphone app, and one neat addition is that you'll be able to share the digital key with as many as five other users. So no more patting down pockets or rifling through bags, looking for the spare key anymore. The key can be shared from iPhone to iPhone via Apple's iMessage text app.

An important feature will include a power reserve so that even if your iPhone turns itself off because of a low battery, there will still be enough juice on hand to activate the key function so that you can get in and start your car.

Electric car routes for Apple Maps

Another interesting addition is the electric car navigation routes in Apple Maps. Apple's map app has been generally poorly compared to its rival from Google, but the WWDC saw a series of major updates and improvements, which BMW is capitalising on to improve electric car journeys. 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. The system will debut on the new BMW i4 next year.

In the meantime, the phone key system will be compatible with all BMW models, except for the 7 Series, built from July 1st 2020. You'll need an iPhone XR, iPhone XS or newer and Apple Watch Series 5 or newer.

Published on June 23, 2020
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