BMW integrates virtual car key into Apple iPhone

June 24, 2020 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
BMW integrates virtual car key into Apple iPhone
At this year's Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (AWDC), the company's future processor strategy took the center stage. But there was also another interesting news: In the future, BMW users will be able to use the iPhone as a digital car key.

With this announcement, BMW continues its Apple-friendly policy. Years ago, the company was the first car manufacturer to integrate the (now almost forgotten) music player iPod into its vehicles and also to offer Apple CarPlay completely wirelessly. Now the Bavarian car maker wants to be the first to integrate its virtual car key into the iPhone, where it can be stored in the protected Wallet area.

With the digital key for the iPhone, BMW customers can unlock and lock their car by simply holding the iPhone near the door handle. Likewise, they start the engine by placing the iPhone in the smartphone compartment and pressing the start button. The Digital Key can be set up via the BMW Smartphone App. Car owners can also share access rights with up to five friends, including a configuration option for novice drivers which limits, among other things, maximum speed and engine output as well as the maximum volume of the radio.

Other BMW Digital Key functions include a battery emergency mode in which the Digital Key remains functional for up to five hours even when the iPhone is switched off, and the option of sharing the key with friends via iMessage.

The BMW Group was quick to recognise the potential of the smartphone as a digital key. The standardisation of the digital key improves user-friendliness, security and availability in smartphones - just as the BMW Group's strategy for the digital key has provided for from the very beginning. Apple and the BMW Group have worked closely with the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) to advance the establishment of global standards. The Digital Key Specification 2.0 for NFC was published in May 2020, and the next generation of the digital key with ultra-wideband (UWB) technology is already under development.

The Digital Key will be offered for most BMW models and is expected to be available in 45 countries.

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