BMW has announced that drivers will be able to use their iPhones as a digital key to unlock and start their cars via near-field communication (NFC). The digital key will be available for any BMW 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 8 Series, X5, X6, X7, X5M, X6M and Z4 model manufactured after July 1, 2020, and be compatible with the iPhone XR, iPhone XS or newer, and Apple Watch 5 and newer models.
Drivers will be able to tap their phone or Apple Watch on the door handle then put their iPhone in the wireless charging tray and push the start button, so there’s no need to carry an analog key. If the phone’s battery dies, the digital key will still work up to five hours after the phone turns off.
Drivers can also share access with up to five people through iMessage and configure different profiles to set limits on speed, horsepower, and more. Users can change these settings in the car or through Apple Wallet.
BMW has also been working to establish global standards for how digital keys should work, in hopes of a smoother rollout.
There has been no word yet on why the digital key won’t be available on the brand’s 7 Series or X1, X2, X3, or X4 SUVs, or when the functionality will expand to include Android phones.