The BMW Group and Apple have a long history as the core BMW brand was the first automaker to integrate the iPod in their vehicles and also the first car manufacturer to support wireless CarPlay. In 2020, the tie-up continued with the BMW Digital Key stored in the Apple Wallet for iPhone. Then the BMW Digital Key Plus came along in 2021, allowing owners to unlock and start their cars without taking their smartphones out of their pocket thanks to the Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology.
Earlier this year, MINI announced it too would implement the Digital Key Plus into its next generation of cars. This week, a member of the Mac Rumors forums noticed changes in the Apple Pay configuration files pertaining to the addition of MINI as one of the supported brands in the Wallet. It will work on the models with MINI Operating System 9, essentially MINI’s version of the iDrive 9 already in use on some of BMW’s front-wheel-drive-based compact cars.
Much like with the BMW version, the MINI Digital Key Plus will come with a share function, allowing you to pass along the digital key to friends and members of the family. With the BMW Digital Key Plus, you can share the key with up to five people and impose certain restrictions regarding horsepower, top speed, radio volume, and others. These limitations can be implemented either from within the car or through the Apple Wallet. The BMW Digital Key Plus also has a power reserve function for the iPhone by continuing to work for as much as five hours even if the smartphone shuts off because of a low battery.
As to which models will get the MINI equivalent first, our money is on the new Cooper three-door hatchback and the Countryman. The two will likely be joined not long after by the Aceman, an electric-only subcompact crossover debuting in April 2024. There will also be a five-door Cooper hatchback, and eventually, a new convertible.