In June 2020, Apple introduced a feature called Car Key which would work in both iOS 13 and iOS 14. This unique feature converts the iPhone into an actual car key that is capable of doing multiple things like locking, unlocking, and getting a car started.
As stated by Apple, after using this Car Key feature, drivers or car owners would not be required to use physical keys. During the WWDC 2020 keynote, Apple put together a practical demonstration for this novel feature in this event. The process, as was demonstrated, is quite simple. Once you install the feature in your iPhone, you have to hold the iPhone very close to the handle of the car’s door and use the NFC technology to unlock it.
Now, BMW has become the first car manufacturer to implement this technology in one of its car models. While it did that a while back, the car manufacturing company has now introduced an updated version of this technique called Digital Key Plus.
Digital Key Plus utilizes the ultra-wideband technology that happens to be a key feature in the U1 chip present in the iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and Apple Watch Series 6. Car Key enables you to safe-keep a digitalized version of your car key in the wallet app by Apple. You can get your car unlocked by holding your iPhone or Apple Watch near the clock. Since the technology used here is NFC, the distance between the phone and the handle has to be very less.
While BMW launched its Car Key support system under the brand name of Digital Key, the next-generation version is called Digital Key Plus. One of the better things about this updated version is that it works at a longer range. Some of the other improvements include its ability to control the direction better and enabling the driver to unlock the car while the phone is still in his/her pocket.
The BMW iX is the first vehicle on which the Digital Key Plus system will be integrated with. The BMW iX happens to be an all-electric SUV with a reported range of 300 miles. The car’s cabin has been designed along the lines of the X5/X6/X7 series and boasts a simple but dignified look.
Some of the new features found on the BMW Digital Key Plus are a result of the implementation of the high-end Ultra-Wideband technology. It is a high-bandwidth digital radio technology that is known for its accurate localization and is highly secure. The precision offered by this technology helps you get assurance about your car not suffering from any relay attacks.
Though Digital Key Plus has been launched very recently, BMW is said to be working already on developing a 3.0 version of the technology. Both BMW and Apple are working together on this project as a component of the Car Connectivity Consortium.
Apart from making the process of unlocking a car easier, digital keys provide the owner of a car (only the BMW model at the moment) with a wide variety of benefits. If you misplace the physical key, you can de-authorize it remotely. If you want a friend to drive your car, you can choose to share digital keys either on a permanent or a time-limited basis. Many other unique features are expected to be a part of the version that will be launched next.