Most New BMW Models are Apple CarKey Compatible
Most BMWs built after July 1, 2020 will offer compatibility with Apple’s new CarKey phone key technology. This feature was announced this week at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference. BMW is at the forefront of Apple CarKey’s breakthrough in the automotive industry, which sees phone protocols as a key based on near field communication (NFC) integrated into the iOS smartphone operating system from the electronics giant and allows iPhones running the latest software to lock, unlock and start user-registered vehicles.
A 2021 BMW 5 Series sedan showcased the CarKey function at Apple’s big event. The technology display inadvertently highlighted the limitations of the digital key as well as its benefits. How? ‘Or’ What? Well, the holy grail of phone technology as a key would be the ability to keep your phone in your pocket while entering a vehicle, much like today’s proximity key chains that allow drivers to lock , unlock and start their car without ever needing to enter the physical key itself. In its current form, CarKey (or, as BMW calls it, “BMW Digital Key for iPhone”) must be placed within 1.5 inches of the driver’s side door handle to lock or unlock the vehicle. To start the car, a user must place the phone on the wireless charger in the center console. You may notice that both of these actions require the user to physically grab the phone.
It seems that BMW and Apple wanted to bring digital key technology to the market as soon as possible, and were therefore forced to rely on today’s digital key specification 2.0 for the near field communication protocol ( NFC) to achieve this. In its announcement of Digital Key for iPhone, BMW admits that the NFC 2.0 specification has just been published in May and that a new generation configuration using Ultra Wideband technology is already under development. UWB technology, as we saw earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show 2020, is both more secure than NFC and keeps the phone in your pocket, relying on precise location tracking to determine when a user (and the phone) is close enough to unlock or lock the doors and start the car, while ensuring that users’ hands remain free from bulky phones or keys.
The good news is that BMW Digital Key for iPhone offers interesting innovations to the typical car key formula. A “key” – essentially a pairing between a phone and a vehicle – is stored in the Apple Wallet app (where Apple Pay credit card information and items such as airline boarding passes are kept) and is secured by your phone’s lock screen. This means that Face ID facial recognition and Touch ID fingerprint scanning can be used to ensure that no ordinary jabroni can flow through your phone and enter or leave with your car. (An “express mode” allows the phone to be used as a key without requiring the iPhone to be unlocked before use.) BMW and Apple have also worked with the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) to determine and define “global standards” for its digital key function, thus helping to minimize the development footprint among other car manufacturers who will surely also want to deploy a technology compatible with Apple CarKey.
Even cooler, Apple CarKey allows users to share their digital car keys with friends via iMessage. BMW’s configuration even offers vehicle owners the ability to share their car’s digital key with up to five other users and includes “a configurable access option for young drivers, which limits top speed, power , maximum radio volume, etc. ” Worried that your iPhone might die and not be able to get into your BMW? This scenario is covered by the ability of Digital Key for iPhone to record users’ phones for up to five hours after a low battery shutdown. The BMW digital key is also compatible with Apple Watch, which probably means that you don’t have to remove your phone to lock or unlock the car. Instead, Apple Watch wearers should be able to place their technology on their wrists near the car door to access it.
BMW customers interested in CarKey should know that they will need an iPhone XR, XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max or SE with the next iOS 13.6 software update (the digital key will be included with iOS 14 more widely). Want to use your Apple Watch? Better to have an Apple Watch 5, the latest model, with WatchOS 6.2.8. Once you’ve sorted your Apple arsenal, you’ll want to buy these BMW models (the ones that are sold in the United States, that is) that are compatible with the digital key for iPhone:
- BMW 1 Series (not available in the United States)
- BMW 2 Series
- BMW 3 Series
- BMW 4 Series
- BMW 5 Series and M5
- BMW 6 Series (no longer available in the United States)
- BMW 8 Series and M8
- BMW X5 and X5 M
- BMW X6 and X6 M
- BMW X7
- BMW Z4
Most of the new BMW models that are compatible with Apple CarKey appeared first on MotorTrend.