Apple today announced CarKey, a way to wirelessly unlock your car with your iPhone. The 2021 BMW 5 Series Facelift is the first car to get the Apple CarKey.

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The process is quite simple, as you’d expect from Apple. You first pair your iPhone or Apple Watch with a car that supports CarKey. Next, all you need to do is hold your Apple device near your car door’s handle. The authentication process will now kick off and you need to use the Face ID or Touch ID to unlock the car. There is also an option to skip the authentication which is called Express Mode.

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BMW is currently offering a similar solution with Android phones, something we’ve tested in the past as well. There are also separate apps offered by other automakers which offer a similar functionality. The caveat is that you need to have multiple apps on your iPhone. With the Apple CarKey, you can now consolidate all keys in your Wallet.

Another cool feature of Apple CarKey is the ability to create virtual keys and send them via iMessage. You can give permissions to your kids, parents, or friends. The technology is built on Apple’s UWB U1 chip, therefore, other automakers can take advantage of this technology as well.

The CarKey feature comes with the new iOS 14 but will also be compatible with all devices running iOS 13.

BMW says the Digital Key for iPhone will be available 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. For more information please visit www.bmw.com/digitalkey

  • 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

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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.