Called CarKey, this new Apple feature will be first introduced on the 2021 BMW 5 series cars.
The new BMW Digital Key will lock and unlock the auto - and also start the vehicle.
Emily Schubert, Apple senior manager of vehicle experience engineering, demonstrated how a driver can tap the door handle with their iPhone to unlock the sedan. Once inside, the iPhone must be placed on the BMW's wireless charging pad before the driver can press the start button to fire the engine.
The new digital key also offers Apple Watch compatibility, ability to share access with up to 5 friends via iMessage, and storage in the iPhone's Secure Element.
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Yes, we know loads of other manufacturers have apps for unlocking/starting their cars, but this is different because it's actually baked into the iPhone's operating system and uses the native Wallet app. The German vehicle manufacturer also says the phone will continue to work as a key for up to five hours if it powers down due to low battery.
It will appear in the current operating system, iOS 13, but now only works with the newest BMW 5 Series auto, which comes out next month. The Digital Key is also compatible with the Apple Watch. Actually, Tesla is heavily relying on the app since Model 3 and Model Y do not come with a key-fob (but they do come with two NFC valet cards for unlocking or locking the car).
Drivers can plan their trip in advance on their iPhone or enter their destination through Apple CarPlay when they get into the vehicle; either way, Apple Maps will pick the optimal route based on electric range and the locations of charging stations along the way.
But first, in the revamped App Maps app there's a new setting to see where you can charge up at public charging stations for an EV that doesn't care about nearby gas stations. Now - and since the early 2000s - the BMW 5 Series and other BMWs will unlock when the driver touches the door handle with the key in his pocket or bag. The company is saying it is working on an "industry-wide standard" that will utilize the new U1 ultra wideband chip instead of depending exclusively on NFC. This will debut on the upcoming BMW i4, which is due next year.