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During the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, the tech giant announced CarKey as a new feature coming to iOS 14. The first vehicle supporting this feature is the newly refreshed 2021 BMW 5 Series

CarKey uses near field communication (NFC), and an owner needs to hold an iPhone or Apple Watch near a portion of the door for this system to work. The person needs to authenticate their identity using either Face ID or Touch ID, and then the vehicle unlocks. There's also an Express option to skip the authentification step.

CarKey also lets an owner share the digital key with other people through a message. According to Mac Rumors, a person can reportedly provide three levels of access: unlock the trunk, unlock the doors, and be able to drive the vehicle. There are also options to limit the top speed available horsepower, maximum radio volume, and more.

Gallery: Apple CarPlay: Column

Don't worry about using this tech and your phone's battery dying. A power reserve function lets CarKey continue to function for up to five hours after an iPhone shuts off due to a low charge.

Apple didn't mention any automakers using CarKey other than BMW. If the tech giant treats this like CarPlay, then expect the system to be available to any company that wants to implement it.

A digital key isn't a new idea in the industry because Tesla and Hyundai offer similar solutions. However, Apple's implementation is slightly different by letting owners share the digital key.

Apple is already working to expand this technology. In the future, CarKey might use the U1 ultra-wideband chip, rather than NFC, The Verge reports.

Apple also announced some tiny updates to CarPlay during WWDC. The company is adding new wallpapers for the display, and new categories for CarPlay apps are on the way. The Maps app now displays the locations in cities with congestion zone charges.

Apple isn't saying when iOS 14 arrives. The release timing for previous major updates for the software suggests that iPhone users should be able to get it around September.

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BMW announces support for Digital Key for iPhone. A secure and easy way to use iPhone as a car key to lock, unlock, drive, and share keys with friends.
22.06.2020 Press Release

At today’s Apple 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.

Munich/Cupertino. At today’s Apple 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.

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 
- 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 recognise 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 will be iPhone XR, iPhone XS or newer and Apple Watch Series 5 or newer.
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Also announced: smart routes for BMW electric vehicles in Apple Maps.

At today's 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.

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