BMW Announces Plans to Launch Ultra Wideband Version of Apple's Car Key Feature by Early Next Year

BMW today announced future plans to roll out Digital Key Plus, an enhanced version of Apple's Car Keys feature that incorporates Ultra Wideband technology, enabling drivers to unlock and start their vehicle without needing to take their iPhone out of their pocket or bag. BMW says the feature will first launch in its new iX electric vehicle, slated to launch in Europe in late 2021 and in North America in early 2022.

bmw car key photo
Apple introduced support for digital car keys in iOS 13.6 and later last year, and BMW was the first and to date only automaker to roll out the feature, starting with the 2021 5 Series and later to a wider range of BMW models manufactured after July 1, 2020. BMW's current Digital Key feature is based on NFC technology and requires drivers to hold their iPhone near the driver's side door to unlock their vehicle.

Ultra Wideband is a short-range, high-bandwidth wireless communication protocol with precise spatial awareness, meaning that an iPhone will only need to be in the vicinity of the vehicle in order to unlock and start it. BMW says Ultra Wideband's precision also ensures that relay attacks, where the radio signal is jammed or intercepted, are not possible.

Apple started rolling out Ultra Wideband support to some of its devices in 2019 with the U1 chip in iPhone 11 models, followed by iPhone 12 models last year. Apple Watch Series 6 models are also equipped with a U1 chip, and given that Apple's car key feature is available on watchOS 6.2.8 and later, BMW's Digital Key Plus feature could extend to the Apple Watch.

As announced last year, BMW's press release confirms that Apple and BMW have been working closely with the Car Connectivity Consortium to establish the Digital Key 3.0 specification with Ultra Wideband, providing a global standard for the automotive industry.

In related news, Business Korea today claimed that Hyundai plans to adopt Apple's digital car key feature later this year, but the report did not indicate whether Hyundai plans to roll out the NFC or Ultra Wideband version of the feature. Similar to credit cards and boarding passes, digital car keys are stored in the Wallet app on the iPhone and Apple Watch.

(Thanks, Luke!)

Top Rated Comments

RomanEmpire Avatar
23 months ago

Just make the key smaller so it's easier to carry. Using your phone to unlock is a stupid idea since the cellphone's battery don't last long. Everyday you risk not being able to enter your car!
This even works when the phone is „officially“ dead for some time.
Also, when was the last time your phone ran out of battery?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ? Avatar
23 months ago
Every car manufacturer needs that please.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
richardamp Avatar
23 months ago
As a Tesla driver who has been able to use a similar feature for years, I can say that not having to carry a key fob is really, really great. This is an innovation that truly adds value.

I use the MagSafe wallet for my iPhone, so now I just carry one item that is my phone, wallet, and car key. I love it and could never go back!
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
littyboy Avatar
23 months ago

As with credit cards, and now car keys, the real thing is easier imho.

It's easier to reach in my pocket and grab a card for contactless payment (rather than faffing around with biometrics, double tapping a home button, and whatnot on my phone).

It's also easier to just have a standard car key with a button you press to unlock your car.
You don't need to take out car key on modern cars. The doors have a sensor that auto unlocks when your hand grips the door handle.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
farewelwilliams Avatar
23 months ago
Tesla needs to implement CarKey ASAP.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
alexandr Avatar
23 months ago

What’s the point of this if you already have keyless entry and push start. ?‍♂️
not having to carry the key with you. just about that.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

bmw car key photo

Apple's Digital Car Key Feature Will Soon Work With Your iPhone in Your Pocket

Tuesday July 13, 2021 8:13 am PDT by
The Car Connectivity Consortium today announced that its Digital Key 3.0 specification with support for Ultra Wideband and Bluetooth LE connectivity is finalized and now available to members, including Apple. In 2020, Apple introduced a digital car key feature that allows users to unlock and start a compatible vehicle by holding an iPhone or Apple Watch near the driver-side door. The feature ...
apple wallet drivers license feature

Apple Launches Driver's License Feature on iPhone in Arizona, More States Coming Soon

Wednesday March 23, 2022 8:02 am PDT by
Apple today announced that Arizona has become the first U.S. state to support driver's licenses and state IDs in the Wallet app on the iPhone and Apple Watch. Starting today, Apple said Arizona residents can add their driver's license or state ID to the Wallet app, and tap their iPhone or Apple Watch to seamlessly and securely present it at select TSA security checkpoints in Phoenix Sky...
hyatt wallet app hotel room key

Here's a First Look at the iPhone's Convenient Hotel Room Key Feature

Tuesday January 25, 2022 9:31 am PST by
iOS 15 and watchOS 8 introduce the ability to add hotel room keys to the Wallet app on the iPhone and Apple Watch, allowing you to gain access to your room, elevators, and other locked areas by simply tapping your iPhone or Apple Watch against a card reader. The feature eliminates the need for a traditional plastic room card. Last month, hotel chain Hyatt became the first to adopt the feature...
Apple car wheel icon feature yellow

Apple Car Project Loses Three Key Engineers

Wednesday December 8, 2021 3:27 pm PST by
As Apple gears up to release a fully autonomous vehicle, it is continuing to lose key people who are working on the project, reports Bloomberg. Over the last several weeks, three engineers have departed the company. Apple's chief engineer for radar systems, Eric Rogers, left for Joby Aviation, a company working on electric aerial ridesharing. Alex Clarabut, an engineering manager for the...
f1646764298

Apple Announces 'M1 Ultra' Chip With 20-Core CPU, Up to 64-Core GPU, and Support for 128GB of Memory

Tuesday March 8, 2022 10:28 am PST by
Apple today announced the M1 Ultra chip, the third iteration to the M1 family, and it represents the next "breakthrough" for Apple Silicon. M1 Ultra consists of two M1 Max chips connected with die-to-die technology called "UltraFusion." The new highest-end chip of Apple Silicon features 114 billion transistors, with higher support for bandwidth memory at 800GB/s. "M1 Ultra is another...
apple watch series 3 trio

Kuo: Apple Watch Series 3 May Finally Be Discontinued Upon Its Fifth Anniversary in Q3 2022

Monday March 21, 2022 6:10 am PDT by
Apple may finally discontinue the Apple Watch Series 3 when it reaches five years of age in the third quarter of 2022, according to reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a tweet, Kuo said that the Apple Watch Series 3 may reach the end of its life in the third quarter of 2022 because its computing power will not be able to meet the requirements of a new version of watchOS. The Apple Watch...
Apple car wheel icon feature yellow

Apple Working Toward Fully Autonomous Car With No Steering Wheel or Pedals, Aiming to Launch in 2025

Thursday November 18, 2021 9:47 am PST by
Apple is picking up its work on an Apple-designed car and is aiming to create a fully autonomous vehicle, reports Bloomberg. Apple is "refocusing" the project around full self-driving vehicles, a goal that other car manufacturers have not been able to achieve. Work on an Apple Car began way back in 2014, and since then, the project has gone through multiple transformations. At one point,...
bmw car key photo

iPhone's Car Key Feature Now Supports Select 2022 Genesis and Kia Vehicles [Updated]

Wednesday March 23, 2022 9:03 am PDT by
In 2020, Apple introduced a digital car key feature that allows users to unlock and start a compatible vehicle by bringing an iPhone or Apple Watch near the driver-side door. The feature has been limited to select BMW models since launching. According to Apple, the feature has now expanded to select 2022 vehicle models from Genesis and Kia, which are both divisions of Korean automaker...

Popular Stories

USB C Over Lightning Feature

EU Passes Law to Switch iPhone to USB-C by End of 2024

Tuesday October 4, 2022 3:30 am PDT by
The European Parliament today voted overwhelmingly in favor of enforcing USB-C as a common charging port across a wide range of consumer electronic devices, including the iPhone and AirPods, by the end of 2024. The proposal, known as a directive, forces all consumer electronics manufacturers who sell their products in Europe to ensure that a wide range of devices feature a USB-C port. This...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

10 New iOS 16 Features Coming Later This Year

Monday October 3, 2022 2:41 pm PDT by
iOS 16 was released to the public three weeks ago with a customizable Lock Screen, the ability to edit iMessages, improvements to Focus modes, and much more. And in the coming months, iPhone and iPad users have even more new features to look forward to. We've rounded up 10 new features coming to the iPhone and iPad later this year, according to Apple. Many of the features are part of iOS...
ipad pro m1 feature

Gurman: Apple Event This October Remains Unlikely, No Touch ID for iPhone 15

Sunday October 2, 2022 6:41 am PDT by
Apple is developing new iPad Pro, Mac, and Apple TV models, and at least some of these products will be released in October, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. However, Gurman continues to believe that Apple is unlikely to hold an event this month. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman said "the big iPhone 14 unveiling last month was probably it for Apple in 2022 in...
iOS 16

Apple Preparing iOS 16.0.3 With More Bug Fixes Following iPhone 14 Launch

Monday October 3, 2022 7:53 am PDT by
iOS 16.0.2 was released last month with several bug fixes for iPhone 14 issues, excessive copy and paste permission prompts, and more. Now, evidence suggests that Apple is planning to release iOS 16.0.3 with additional bug fixes. Evidence of an upcoming iOS 16.0.3 software update has shown up in MacRumors analytics logs, which have been a reliable indicator in the past. There are several...
Apple SIM Card

Apple SIM No Longer Available for Activating New Cellular Data Plans on iPads

Sunday October 2, 2022 8:04 am PDT by
As of October 1, Apple SIM is no longer available for activating new cellular data plans on supported iPad models, according to an Apple support document. Introduced in 2014, the Apple SIM was designed to allow iPad users to activate cellular data plans from multiple carriers around the world. Initially, the Apple SIM was a physical nano-SIM card, but it was embedded inside later iPad Pro...
maxresdefault

Video: AirPods Pro 2 vs. Bose QuietComfort II

Monday October 3, 2022 12:50 pm PDT by
Apple on September 23 officially launched the second-generation version of the AirPods Pro, introducing updated Active Noise Cancellation, Adaptive Transparency, improved sound, and more. Right around the same time, Bose introduced new QuietComfort II earbuds with many similar features, so we thought we'd compare the two to see which has the edge. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for ...
General YouTube Feature 1

You May Soon Need to Be a YouTube Premium Subscriber to Watch 4K Videos

Monday October 3, 2022 4:29 am PDT by
YouTube may make watching videos in 4K quality on the platform exclusive to only YouTube Premium subscribers, according to screenshots posted by users on Twitter and Reddit. On Reddit (1,2) and Twitter, some users have started to recently notice that on iOS, and presumably across other platforms also, YouTube is now saying that in order to watch videos in 4K, the user must be a paying...
dynamic island alan dye

Apple Executives Talk About iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island in New Interview

Sunday October 2, 2022 10:48 am PDT by
In a new interview, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, and Apple's vice president of human interface design, Alan Dye, sat down to discuss the thinking behind the iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island and how it was developed. During the interview with the Japanese magazine Axis, Federighi, who oversees the development of iOS, said Dynamic Island represents the...