As part of the Car Connectivity Consortium, BMW and Apple have been working hand in glove to make car keys a thing of the past. This next-generation, dubbed ‘Digital Key Plus’ takes it to a new level.
Providing a longer range than the older Digital Key system it will allow users to unlock and start their car without ever taking their iPhone out of their pocket or bag. Just walk up to the car, pull the handle, get in and press Start. Truly seamless technology.
Dubbed ‘Car Key’ by Apple, the older system works via NFC, so its incredibly short in range and means you have to take your phone out and hold it against the NFC reader on the car. This new version uses the U1 chip in the iPhone; this provides Ultra-Wideband frequency or UWB for short. Not only does this digital radio technology increase the distance, but it also allows a precise location which helps boost security as relay type attacks or jamming isn’t possible.
BMW’s upcoming iX, an all-electric SUV with a toted range of 300 miles, will be the first vehicle to feature the new Digital Key Plus platform. You must also have one of the latest iPhone generations for it to work, so the 11, 12 or Apple Watch Series 6.
Sadly there’s no current Android love, but that’s not to say it won’t happen in the future. Actual key-less driving will only become more prevalent as IOT and 5G systems integrate with more of our lives; it also enables things that you can’t do with a traditional car key.
Digital Key Plus allows you to share your key on a permanent or time-limited basis, so if someone needs to borrow your car, you add them as a user. Dropping it off for a service, give access for a day. The system also works to permanently revoke the key when a vehicle is sold.
It’s great to see manufacturers take a new, futuristic approach to technology; arguably, BMW has always been at the forefront of embracing such mobile connectivity. The BMW i3 and i8 were the first to enable remote locking and unlocking via the BMW smartphone app, checking on charge status and even being able to pre-heat the car all via your smartphone. Digital Key Plus is just the next way to make our lives easier.
Now let’s see it rolled out across the whole range as a standard feature.