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BMW: iPhone can be used as digital car key

iPhone opening BMW

BMW is launching a ‘digital key’ that will enable customers to use their iPhone to lock, unlock and drive their car.

The announcement, made at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference yesterday (Tuesday, June 23), sees BMW become the first carmaker to enable its customers to use the iPhone as a fully digital car key.

The manufacturer says it 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, it said.

The car owner can also share access with up to five other people, including a configurable car access option for young drivers which restricts top speed, horsepower, maximum radio volume and more. 

Management of access can be done from inside the car as well as through Apple Wallet.

The technology will be available on 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 will be iPhone XR, iPhone XS or newer and Apple Watch Series 5 or newer.

BMW and Apple also announced a new feature that they say will make it easier for CarPlay users to take BMW electric vehicles (EVs) on longer journeys by automatically taking into account when and where to charge.

Drivers can plan their trip in advance on their iPhone or 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 feature will first be available for BMW in the fully electric BMW i4 launching next year.

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