Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference 2020 will be remembered for many things, most notably for the absence of any audience in attendance for this year’s event. Sandwiched between announcements of Apple’s migration to its own silicon for Macs, iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur, and a multitude of iEverything else within the Apple universe, the Cupertino giant also showed off a feature that will soon give BMW owners – and hopefully numerous other auto owners – the ability to use their iPhones as a fully digital car key.
Demoed using the 2021 BMW 5 Series, the Tanzanite Blue Metallic adorned sedan opened wirelessly using the iPhone’s built-in NFC, and starting with only a tap of a button once the iPhone was set across the car’s charging pad.
If you’ve used Apple Wallet to pay, you’ll have no problem using CarKey, a digital car key technology designed to unlock your auto and start it with nary a key fob in sight. Using the same built-in NFC chip and biometric security features as Apple iPhone’s digital wallet, CarKey resides alongside other virtual payment accounts in iOS Wallet, granting access to automobiles only when Face ID or Touch ID authentication is verified (there’s an option to skip authentication if you’re feeling especially trusting).
Additional features offered via Apple + BMW 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, the option to share access with up to 5 friends via iMessage, and Apple Watch compatibility.
Apple’s new CarKey will also grant users the ability to virtually toss the car keys over to other family member or other trusted contacts via iMessage, granting use with or without restrictions – access/use time, top speed, horse power, maximum radio volume, and more.
BMW will be the first car brand to use the iPhone+iOS as a fully digital car key solution (dubbed, BMW Digital Key, by the automaker), but it’s almost certain to spread across the industry soon afterward – especially across the luxury segment – where monied Apple iPhone users will appreciate one less thing to forget, misplace, or scratch their device.