iPhone Unlocks New BMW with Digital Key & Plan EV Trips

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

The first step is to, create a BMW ID and use the BMW Connected app to add your vehicle.

To begin the setup process, access the Digital Key menu in the app. For security reasons, you must be sitting in your car and have both of your regular car keys with you in order to prove that you are the owner. Follow the instructions in the menu, press the Pair Now button, place your iPhone in the holder with the NFC sensor, and you’re done! Your digital key will then be stored in the Apple Wallet app.


The digital key is saved on a certified, tamper-resistant and high-security NFC chip in your iPhone. The near-field communication technology guarantees the highest level of data protection, since the sender and receiver must be in close proximity to communicate. Furthermore, your car and phone information are not shared with Apple or BMW.

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. It even functions when your iPhone’s battery is dead and your smartphone shuts off. Depending on which iPhone you have, the key will still work for several hours. If you turn your iPhone off manually, the BMW Digital Key will only work once you turn your device back on.
– Ability to share access with up to 5 friends via iMessage
– Apple Watch compatibility

BMW is a leading contributors to the Digital Key standard.
The BMW Group was quick to recognize the potential of smartphones as digital keys – if done right. Standardizing 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 is excited to announce 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 1st 2020. Compatible iPhone models are compatible with BMW Digital Key: iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone SE (2nd generation) and Apple Watch Series 5. BMW Digital Key will require the upcoming iOS 13.6 and WatchOS 6.2.8.

Also announced: smart routes for BMW electric vehicles in Apple Maps.
At the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference, BMW and Apple also announced a new feature that will make it easier than ever for CarPlay users to take BMW electric vehicles on longer journeys by automatically taking into account when and where to charge. 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. This seamless, simple feature will first be available for BMW in the fully electric BMW i4 launching next year.