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BMW has announced it will become the first carmaker to enable its customers to use their iPhone as a fully digital car key.

The upcoming BMW Digital Key for the iPhone will enable customers to just tap to unlock and easily get going by placing their iPhone in the smartphone tray and pushing the start button. 

“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,” the company said in a statement.

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.”

Additional features of the new Digital Key include:

  • Setup of the Digital Key through the BMW Smartphone App. 
  • Storage in the Secure Element of your iPhone and access through Apple Wallet.
  • A 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 (which can be configured to restrict top speed, horse power, maximum radio volume and more).
  • Apple Watch compatibility.

Forget about “range anxiety”

At yesterday’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 simply 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 the 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. The announcements come on the back of the BMW Group selling over 2.5 million passenger vehicles and more than 175,000 motorcycles worldwide in 2019.

“The success of the BMW Group has always been based on long-term thinking and responsible action,” BMW said.

“[We’ve] therefore established ecological and social sustainability throughout the value chain, comprehensive product responsibility and a clear commitment to conserving resources as an integral part of its strategy.”