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Apple Announces CarKey Feature With BMW As The First Partner

Apple has launched a new technology called ‘CarKey’ which will be on the new Iphone feature. The CarKey will allow some drivers to unlock their cars with their Apple phone or Apple watch wirelessly. Apple wants to bring it to mainstream, by making virtual CarKey’s into IOS14 and some IOS13- with BMW as its first partner.

BMW has said that the digital key for Iphone will have “broad availability” across over a dozen models and dozens of countries. It will only be available in the newly manufactured BMW cars starting July 1st 2020. BMW announced it will be available in 45 countries for the major range of models: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, X5, X6, X7, X5M , X6M and Z4. The compatible Iphone XR, Iphone 11 or newer and also the Apple watch series 5 or newer. Several of the features of the initiative include tap-to-unlock, start the car by placing your Iphone in the smartphone tray, key sharing up to five other users, access limits for young drivers such as restrictions on speed and radio volume and more.

The process of connecting your car with your Iphone or Apple watch is quite simple. All you have to do is pair the watch or Iphone with the car that supports CarKey, then you need to hold your Apple device near to the car door handle. Once the authentication process is done you will then need to use the face Id or touch Id to unlock the car. You can have the option of skipping the authentication process by selecting the express mode. The Iphone digital CarKey uses the same mode as the existing express transit feature, so your Iphone doesn’t need to be unlocked to allow access to the car or to start it, this can be disabled to require face Id, touch Id or a passcode. Also with power reserve, the digital key will continue to work for up to five hours after your Iphone shuts down due to low battery.

The digital CarKey communicates with your car via near field communication (NFC) and is stored in the same secure way that your Iphone uses to store your credit cards. It also can be shared with other IOS users the same way you can share other items in your IOS wallet.


  • Give the virtual keys to your kids, parents or friends.
  • CarKey feature comes with the new IOS14 but will also be compatible with all devices running IOS13.
  • Storage in the secure element of your Iphone and access through Apple wallet.
  • Power reserve for Iphone where the CarKey will still function for up to five hours if the Iphone turns off due to low battery.
  • Ability to share virtual CarKey with up to five friends or family via Imessage.
  • Apple watch compatibility.
  • You don’t need internet access for it to work.
  • Drivers can plan their trip in advance on their Iphone or simply enter their destination through Apple carplay when they get into their car; either way, Apple maps will pick the optimal rate 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).

This is the first time Apple has implemented this connected car tech, although it’s not a new idea. BMW will be the first carmaker to support Apple CarKey when the facelifted 5 series goes on sale in July, but the German OCM has already offered a Android version for some time now via its BMW connected app. In fact, NFC keys are all the range in the car industry. Tesla switched to using an NFC card instead of the more normal remote fob when they introduced the Model 3 Sedan several years ago. Volvo also started playing around with digital keys, including the ability to share them with other authorized users- with its digital concierge service. Digital keys enabled a 2015 pilot program in Germany that turned the trunk of your Audi into a locker, that DHL could use to drop off your amazon packages.