BMW will be first to market with yet another innovative technology. Announced at this year’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, BMW models from nearly the entire range with a production date after July 1 2020 will support Digital Key. Compatible with all of the current iPhone models starting with the XR, XS, and newer (along with the Apple Watch Series 5), Digital Key will allow drivers to gain entry to and start their BMW via a pass located in their Apple Wallet—it’s as simple as tapping to unlock.
During the early 2000s, BMW was the first auto manufacturer to offer a factory iPod interface. Not long ago, BMW became the first automaker to offer wireless Apple CarPlay, a feature that most other brands still require a cable for. Digital Key is now yet another installment of industry firsts, but the technology is a lot more advanced and capable than it seems at first glance.
When we first heard the rumors surrounding the potential for Digital Key earlier this year, we noted how the technology would use near-field communication (NFC) to connect a driver’s iPhone with their BMW. Now, BMW and Apple have released the full details of Digital Key, and here are the important facts:
- Compatible with iPhone XR, XS, and newer, and Apple Watch Series 5
- Ability to share access with up to five friends via iMessage
- Power reserve for iPhone where car keys will still function for up to five hours if the iPhone turns off due to low battery
The prospect of being able to share access to a vehicle via iMessage is particularly interesting. Whether it’s for something as simple as letting your friend unlock your car to retrieve a forgotten belonging, or so they can drive it to pick you up from the airport, the possibilities are intriguing. So too are some of the potential problems, but BMW has come up with an innovative solution here as well. Say it’s prom night and the younger generation has been granted permission to take use the coveted Z4 as the chariot. While it’s easy to share Digital Key access to the car via iMessage, parental units can also use the configurable car access option to set appropriate limits on things such as horsepower, top speed, infotainment system volume, and more.
BMW Digital Key for iPhone will be available in 45 countries and applies to a, “broad range of models” from 1 Series through the 8 Series, X5 through X7 (including M models), and the Z4.
Along with the Digital Key announcement, BMW also broke news regarding another Apple technology, Apple Maps. Starting with the BMW i4 which is slated to launch next year, Apple Maps will work to develop smart routes for BMW EVs that include detours for charging while en route. Drivers will be able to plan journeys in advance with their iPhone, or using the CarPlay interface within their BMW.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]