BMW Updates Connected App With Car Keys Support

Apple at WWDC announced Car Keys, a new feature designed to allow digital car keys to be added to the Wallet app on the iPhone, allowing iPhones and Apple Watch models to be used in lieu of a physical car key.


Apple at the time said the feature would come to both iOS 13 and iOS 14, and the first Car Keys partner, BMW, today added support for the feature to its BMW Connected app. With Car Keys support, a BMW Digital Key for the ‌iPhone‌ can be added to the Wallet app on the ‌iPhone‌.

The feature allows the ‌iPhone‌ to be used to lock and unlock the car by holding it up to the door handle, and it can also start the car when the ‌iPhone‌ is placed in the smartphone tray in the vehicle. Access to a car can be shared with up to five friends or family members, with various restrictions available.

BMW's Digital Key for ‌iPhone‌ feature works with a number of BMW models: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, X5, X6, X7, X5M, X6M and Z4 if manufactured after July 1st 2020. Compatible vehicles will be shown on the vehicle tab in the app.

An iPhone XR, XS, or newer is required, and for those who want to use an ‌Apple Watch‌, an ‌Apple Watch‌ Series 5 or newer is required. When Car Keys was announced, BMW said the feature would require iOS 13.6, which Apple has not released, so it's not clear if the digital key feature is functional at this time.

For more on how Car Keys works and its feature set, make sure to check out our guide.

(Thanks, Florian!)
Tags: BMW, CarKey

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Apple’s Digital Car Key Coming to Broad Array of BMW Models Manufactured After July 1, Requires iOS 13.6

During its WWDC keynote today, Apple officially announced its digital car key technology, which will let users lock, unlock, and start cars using just their iPhone or Apple Watch. BMW was announced as Apple's lead partner on the initiative, and the German automaker shared additional information on the partnership in a press release today.


BMW says that its Digital Key for ‌iPhone‌ will have "broad availability" across over a dozen models and dozens of countries, although it appears it will only be available in newly manufactured cars starting July 1.
BMW is excited to announce the availability of Digital Key for ‌iPhone‌ 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.
In the press release and associated guide, BMW highlights several of the features of the initiative including tap-to-unlock, starting the car by placing your ‌iPhone‌ in the smartphone tray, key sharing with up to five other users, access limits for young drivers such as restrictions on speed and radio volume, and more.


While Apple promoted the digital car key as an iOS 14 feature, it did say that it will also be available for iOS 13 users, and BMW confirms that it will require iOS 13.6, which is currently in beta testing. ‌Apple Watch‌ users with watchOS 6.2.8 will also be able to use the feature.

The ‌iPhone‌ digital car key uses the same mode as the existing Express Transit feature, so your ‌iPhone‌ doesn't need to be unlocked to allow access to the car or to start it, although this can be disabled to require Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode. With Power Reserve, the digital key will continue to function for up to five hours after your ‌iPhone‌ shuts down due to low battery.
Tags: BMW, CarKey

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CarKey: A New Feature That Will Let You Unlock a Car With Your iPhone

Apple's iPhones and Apple Watches have supported NFC for some time now, and in the future, those NFC capabilities will be used to allow Apple users to lock, unlock, and start compatible NFC-enabled vehicles using the iPhone or Apple Watch in lieu of a physical key.


Apple calls this upcoming feature "CarKey" and this guide covers everything we know about how CarKey will work once it's released.

What is CarKey?


CarKey is a digital protocol that lets an ‌iPhone‌ or ‌Apple Watch‌ with NFC capabilities unlock, lock, start, and otherwise control an NFC-capable vehicle.

Cars do not have NFC functionality by default, so this is a feature that needs to be implemented by automobile manufacturers much like CarPlay.

What can be done with CarKey may vary by car manufacturer, but at a minimum, it seems to be able to unlock your car, lock your car, and start your car, which are the features available with a physical key.

CarKey will work through an NFC-based Digital Key 2.0 specification that's developed by the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), which Apple is a member of. The Digital Key 2.0 specification establishes a secure connection between mobile devices and vehicles over NFC.

How does CarKey work?


Many newer cars these days have key fobs that unlock and start a car just via proximity, and CarKey is a lot like that. CarKey is a digital version of a car key that's stored inside the Wallet app.

Unlocking (or locking) a vehicle with CarKey will involve holding an ‌Apple Watch‌ or ‌iPhone‌ near an NFC reader located inside the car. When the NFC reader detects the digital key stored in the ‌iPhone‌ or ‌Apple Watch‌, the locking mechanism in the car will activate.

The ‌iPhone‌ will authenticate the unlocking action with Face ID or Touch ID to verify, though iOS 13 code suggests there's an Express Mode that will eliminate the need to authenticate, allowing for a faster vehicle unlocking process. From text found in ‌iOS 13‌:
To use CarKey, hold ‌iPhone‌ or ‌Apple Watch‌ to reader. It will work automatically, without requiring Face ID. You can change express mode settings in Wallet.

How is CarKey set up?


Code in ‌iOS 13‌ includes details on how CarKey's setup will work. CarKey users will need to put the ‌iPhone‌ on top of an NFC reader located inside the vehicle, and the pairing process could take several minutes to complete.

A pairing code provided by the car manufacturer will need to be entered, though some setup processes could involve downloading an app from the carmaker. Instructions found in iOS:
Place this ‌iPhone‌ on top of the NFC reader in your car. Pairing process may take several minutes, do not remove it from the reader until pairing is done.

Enter the CarKey code provided by your car dealer or connect using the [Vehicle Brand's] app.

What does CarKey look like in the Wallet app?


CarKey will look like a standard card in the Wallet app. When you tap on the card, it will provide vehicle info like model number and issuing automaker.

A screenshot pulled from ‌iOS 13‌ depicting the CarKey interface


There will also be a toggle to activate Express Mode (unlocking without biometric authentication), or sharing a key with other people with a few options for access.

Can I share my CarKey with others?


Yes. There will be an option to send a digital CarKey to unlock your car to others using the Messages app. This will be useful for valet parking, sharing vehicle access with a spouse or a friend, getting a repair, and other similar situations.

Different levels of access can be provided, so you can do things like provide full unlocking/driving access or more restricted access, such as allowing someone to unlock a car but not start it. Access can be permanent or temporary. From text found in iOS:
[Vehicle Owner] invited you to use their [Vehicle Model] with unlock & drive access. This allows you to use your ‌iPhone‌ and ‌Apple Watch‌ to unlock/lock the car, start the engine and drive.
There are three levels of access: Unlocking the vehicle, unlocking the vehicle and driving it, or unlocking the trunk only.

In the ‌Messages‌ app, you can send a digital CarKey much like you can send Apple Cash. CarKey keys can be shared in individual conversations, but not group conversations.
CarKey is not available in group conversations. You can send CarKey in conversations with an individual.
A person who has a digital CarKey to your car will be able to use their ‌iPhone‌ or ‌Apple Watch‌ to unlock and/or start the car just like the car owner can do.

Will CarKey work automatically?


No. CarKey will only work in vehicles that have NFC capabilities, and car manufacturers need to implement NFC and CarKey support into their vehicles.

Apple is partnering with automakers and CarKey may be a factory-installed option that's limited to newer car models. As with ‌CarPlay‌, though, it's possible there could be some aftermarket options for installing an NFC reader connected to the car locks and engine.

Screenshots found in iOS suggest that one of Apple's first partners will be BMW. BMW already supports locking and unlocking a vehicle and starting the engine with the BMW Digital Key in the BMW Connected app, and plans to bring it to other platforms as well.


Will CarKey work if my ‌iPhone‌'s battery dies?


Yes. CarKey is based on NFC, and it will continue to operate even when an ‌iPhone‌ or ‌Apple Watch‌ battery is low or recently died as there is a low-power mode included. It may not always be possible to unlock a car with a dead ‌iPhone‌, however, depending on how long it's been since the ‌iPhone‌ died and whether all of the power reserves have been exhausted.

With the similar Express transit functionality that also works over NFC, Apple says power reserve lasts for about five hours beyond the point your ‌iPhone‌ needs to be recharged, although using the NFC functionality while on power reserve will decrease that time.

Does Apple know when I lock and unlock my car with CarKey?


No. Apple in iOS 13.5.1 released a CarKey privacy policy that gives some insight into CarKey's built-in privacy. During setup, the one-time redemption token that must be entered to pair a vehicle with the Wallet app is sent along with information about a user's Apple account, device, and location at the time of setup for fraud prevention purposes.

A unique device identifier is sent to the vehicle manufacturer to set up CarKey. The identifier is unique for each manufacturer for privacy protection purposes. Apple says that car makers can connect the device identifier with other information it has about you, based on the manufacturer's privacy policy.

Likewise, while Apple does not retain information on vehicle usage (such as when a CarKey is used to lock or unlock a car), a vehicle manufacturer may collect this kind of usage information according to user agreements established with the manufacturer.

When will CarKey launch?


There's no word yet on when CarKey will launch. Signs of CarKey have been found in multiple versions of ‌iOS 13‌, so it's definitely something that Apple is actively developing and refining.

With iOS 14 being previewed in June and launched in the fall, there's a chance that CarKey is designed to be an ‌iOS 14‌ feature, and it's possible Apple will unveil it at WWDC. CarKey is dependent on car makers, though, so Apple may need to wait until partnerships have been established.

Future CarKey Capabilities


While the Digital Key 2.0 Specification was released in May 2020, the Car Connectivity Consortium is working on a Digital Key 3.0 specification based on Bluetooth LE and Ultra Wideband that would allow for passive, location-aware keyless access.

With a feature that works over Bluetooth and Ultra Wideband over NFC, the ‌iPhone‌ would be able to be left in a pocket and would still unlock or start a vehicle without direct NFC contact and authentication. Apple's iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max feature Ultra Wideband support and would be compatible with this functionality.

CarKey Rumors and Coverage



Guide Feedback


Have a question about CarKey, know of something we left out, or want to offer feedback? Send us an email here.
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CarKey Privacy Policy Detailed in iOS 13.5.1, Suggesting Launch Could Come Soon

Buried in the iOS 13.5.1 update, there's a privacy policy for the "CarKey" feature that Apple has in the works, suggesting that a launch could perhaps be coming soon. CarKey is designed to allow an iPhone or Apple Watch to be used in lieu of a physical key in certain vehicles with NFC connectivity.


First noticed by German site iPhone-ticker.de, the CarKey privacy info can be found in the current iOS 13.5.1 release and the iOS 13.6 beta. There's no word yet on when CarKey will be released, but quite a bit of info about the feature has leaked over the course of the last few months as signs of it have shown up in various versions of iOS 13.

There's not a lot of new info about CarKey in the privacy policy, but it does sum up how CarKey works, setup, and the sharing of CarKey keys through Messages. It makes it clear that Apple does not collect or retain information on vehicle usage, though the vehicle manufacturer still may collect vehicle usage information based on their own privacy policies.
Wallet allows you to add and share car keys for certain vehicles. You may add a car key by signing in to your vehicle manufacturer's app or entering a pairing code in Wallet to claim the vehicle as your own and to pair your device with your vehicle. If successful, your device sends Apple a one-time owner redemption token. Apple uses the redemption token, information about your Apple account and your device, and your location at the time of provisioning (if Location Services is enabled) for fraud prevention purposes.

To set up your car key, Apple shares a unique device identifier with your vehicle manufacturer. This device identifier is different for each vehicle manufacturer to help protect your privacy. Your vehicle manufacturer may connect this device identifier with other information it has about you and will process information it has about you according to its privacy policy.

You may share car keys by tapping Invite on the back of your car key pass, selecting the access type that you would like to grant, and sharing the car key pass using iMessage. To help set up and manage car key passes, Apple forwards to the vehicle manufacturer information about with whom a pass is shared and what level of access was granted. Apple also shares a unique device identifier for the pass recipient with the vehicle manufacturer to enable them to manage your pass. For pass recipients, just as with owners, the vehicle manufacturer may connect the device identifier with other information it may have about the recipient and process such information according to its privacy policy.

Apple does not collect or retain information on vehicle usage, such as when you use your car key pass to lock or unlock the vehicle. Your vehicle manufacturer may collect vehicle usage information according to agreements you have with them. We encourage you to review your vehicle manufacturer's privacy policy for more information.
Digital CarKey keys will be stored in the Wallet app alongside credit cards, rewards cards, gift cards, and other items on ‌iPhone‌ and ‌Apple Watch‌. These keys will let an ‌iPhone‌ or ‌Apple Watch‌ unlock, lock, and start vehicles equipped with NFC.

Vehicle owners will be able to share a digital CarKey with another person, which is useful in valet situations, if a friend needs to borrow a car, and more. CarKey access is authenticated biometrically using Face ID or Touch ID, though there is an "Express Mode" that vehicle owners can take advantage of.

Apple will be partnering with vehicle manufacturers for CarKey, and it may be a factory installed option similar to CarPlay. CarKey requires NFC to function, so it is something that needs to be implemented by car makers.

Screenshots found in iOS 14 have suggested that BMW may be one of the first manufacturers that will support the CarKey feature. CarKey functionality could be released at any time as the NFC-based Digital Key Release specification that powers it was finalized in May and provided to Car Connectivity Consortium members including Apple.

CarKey screenshots

Given that CarKey is a major feature and iOS 14 is on the horizon and set to be unveiled next week, CarKey could perhaps be included in the ‌iOS 14‌ update.
Tag: CarKey

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NFC-Based Digital Key Specification Released Ahead of Apple’s Rumored CarKey Feature on iPhone

Amid rumors that Apple is working on a "CarKey" feature for iPhone, the Car Connectivity Consortium today announced that its NFC-based Digital Key Release 2.0 specification has been finalized and made available to its members, which includes Apple.


The specification enables mobile devices to store, authenticate, and share digital keys for vehicles with end-to-end security and privacy. The specification includes support for a low-power mode, meaning that a vehicle can still be unlocked with a smartphone that recently ran out of battery, similar to Power Reserve mode for Apple Pay transit cards.

Moving forward, the consortium is developing a Digital Key 3.0 specification based on both Bluetooth LE and Ultra Wideband to enable passive, location-aware keyless access. This would allow you to leave your iPhone in your pocket or backpack when accessing or starting your vehicle. iPhone 11 models are equipped with an Apple-designed U1 chip with Ultra Wideband support, so Apple could choose to offer this functionality.

MacRumors recently discovered that Apple is developing a new "CarKey" feature that will allow an iPhone or Apple Watch to unlock, lock, and start an NFC-compatible vehicle. Just like credit cards and boarding passes, users will be able to add a digital car key to the Wallet app, eliminating the need to use a physical car key or key fob.

CarKey will allow users to approach their vehicle, hold their iPhone or Apple Watch near an NFC reader in the vehicle, authenticate with Face ID, and have the vehicle unlock automatically. Similar to Apple Pay at transit turnstiles, Express Mode would be an option, eliminating the need to authenticate with Face ID or a passcode.

Last month, screenshots of what appears to be the CarKey interface surfaced on Twitter, providing us with our first look at the upcoming feature.


As expected, a digital car key appears as a card in the Wallet app. Tapping on the card reveals info such as the car model, issuing automaker, a toggle switch for Express Mode, and an option to share a car key with other users. When sharing a car key, the primary user can provide others with three levels of access, including the ability to unlock the trunk only, unlock the vehicle, or unlock the vehicle and drive it.

Based on leaked iOS 14 code, it appears that BMW may be among the first automakers to support the CarKey feature. It is unclear when Apple plans to announce the feature, but it is expected to preview iOS 14 next month.
Tag: CarKey

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CarKey Screenshots Reveal Digital Keys in Wallet App, BMW Likely to Support Feature at Launch

MacRumors recently discovered that Apple is developing a new "CarKey" feature that will allow an iPhone or Apple Watch to unlock, lock, and start an NFC-compatible vehicle. Just like credit cards and boarding passes, users will be able to add a digital car key to the Wallet app, eliminating the need to use a physical car key or key fob.

CarKey will allow users to approach their vehicle, hold their iPhone or Apple Watch near an NFC reader in the vehicle, authenticate with Face ID, and have the vehicle unlock automatically. Similar to Apple Pay at transit turnstiles, Express Mode would be an option, eliminating the need to authenticate with Face ID or a passcode.

Earlier this week, screenshots of what appears to be the CarKey interface surfaced on Twitter, providing us with our first look at the upcoming feature.

Source: DongleBookPro

As expected, a digital car key appears as a card in the Wallet app. Tapping on the card reveals info such as the car model, issuing automaker, a toggle switch for Express Mode, and an option to share a car key with other users. When sharing a car key, the primary user can provide others with three levels of access, including the ability to unlock the trunk only, unlock the vehicle, or unlock the vehicle and drive it.

MacRumors uncovered that users will be able to share CarKeys using the Messages app. Shared access to CarKeys can be permanent for trusted individuals, such as a family member or friend, or temporary for someone like a valet driver.

It appears that Apple will be partnering with automakers for this initiative, suggesting that CarKey could roll out in a similar manner as CarPlay. Based on the screenshots above and iOS code strings seen by MacRumors, it looks likely that luxury car brand BMW will be one of the first automakers to support the feature, as 9to5Mac noted earlier.

BMW teased the future of digital keys in a press release last year:
Today, it is already possible to lock and unlock the vehicle, start the engine and share the key with others using the BMW Digital Key as part of BMW Connected on the smartphone. But this is only the first step in a global technological transformation being shaped and led by the BMW Group.
Apple is a member of the Car Connectivity Consortium, which recently announced an NFC-based Digital Key 2.0 specification that it said would be made available by the end of 2019. The consortium said this specification establishes a secure connection between mobile devices and vehicles using NFC, even when a compatible device's battery is low.

Next, the consortium is developing a Digital Key 3.0 specification based on both Bluetooth LE and Ultra Wideband to enable passive, location-aware keyless access. This would allow you to leave your iPhone in your pocket or backpack when accessing or starting your vehicle. iPhone 11 models are equipped with an Apple-designed U1 chip with Ultra Wideband support, so Apple could choose to offer this functionality.

It is unclear when Apple plans to make CarKey available to the public. The feature is not activated in iOS 13.4, released earlier this week. CarKey could be introduced in a future update to iOS 13 or held until iOS 14, which should be previewed in June.
Tag: CarKey

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Apple’s Upcoming ‘CarKey’ Feature Will Let You Send Digital Keys Using Messages App

As discovered in the first beta of iOS 13.4, Apple is working on a new "CarKey" feature that will allow an iPhone or an Apple Watch to unlock, lock, and start NFC-compatible vehicles.


CarKey "keys" live in the Wallet app and as we found in the first beta, can be shared with other people so you can allow others temporary access to your car. In the second beta of iOS 13.4, there's updated wording concerning sharing, which makes it clear that digital car keys will be able to be sent to people using the Messages app.

CarKey keys will be able to be shared with people in individual conversations but not in group conversations. From iOS 13.4 beta 2:
CarKey is not available in group conversations. You can send CarKey in conversations with an individual.
Sharing a CarKey with someone will allow that person to use their ‌iPhone‌ or ‌Apple Watch‌ to access a compatible car by holding the device near an NFC reader located inside of the vehicle. Keys can be permanent (for a spouse) or temporary (for a valet driver or mechanic).

People who receive a digital key over the Messages app will see text letting them know how it works.
[Vehicle Owner] invited you to use their [Vehicle Model] with unlock & drive access. This allows you to use your ‌iPhone‌ and ‌Apple Watch‌ to unlock/lock the car, start the engine and drive.
CarKey access, like Apple Pay and Apple Cash, is authenticated biometrically using Face ID or Touch ID to make sure the person holding the ‌iPhone‌ is the person with permission to access a car, though there is an "Express Mode: that would presumably work without the need for authentication.

Apple will be partnering with vehicle manufacturers for CarKey, which indicates that it may be a factory installed option much like CarPlay. CarKey requires a vehicle with NFC, so it is something that vehicle manufacturers will need to implement as ‌CarPlay‌ was.

Apple is a member of the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), which has developed an NFC-based Digital Key 2.0 specification made available at the end of 2019. The new specification establishes a secure connection between mobile devices and vehicles over NFC.

The CCC is also working on a Digital Key 3.0 specification based on Bluetooth Le and Ultra Wideband, enabling passive location-aware keyless access. Apple's iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max support Ultra Wideband, so this is CarKey functionality we could see in the future.

There is no word yet on when CarKey will be announced by Apple or when it will start rolling out to new vehicles, but a launch could come with the public release of iOS 13.4.

With Apple rumored to be holding an event on March 31, the CarKey announcement could be made at the event as we expect iOS 13.4's release to coincide with the debut of new devices.

Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOS

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iOS 13.4 Beta Reveals ‘CarKey’ Feature That Would Turn Your iPhone or Apple Watch Into a Car Key

Apple yesterday seeded the first beta of iOS 13.4 with several new features, such as iCloud folder sharing, new Memoji stickers, and a redesigned Mail toolbar. While not mentioned in the release notes, the update also includes early signs of an interesting feature that would turn an iPhone or Apple Watch into a car key.

As first reported by 9to5Mac, and confirmed by MacRumors contributor Steve Moser, the iOS 13.4 beta contains strings of code that reference an unreleased "CarKey" framework that would enable an iPhone or Apple Watch to lock or unlock compatible vehicles and start the engine to drive.


The code indicates that "CarKey" would essentially be a digital car key stored in the Wallet app. This would allow you to approach your vehicle, hold your iPhone or Apple Watch near an NFC reader in the vehicle, authenticate with Face ID, and have the vehicle unlock automatically. Similar to Apple Pay for transit, Express Mode would be an option, eliminating the need to authenticate.
To use CarKey, hold iPhone or Apple Watch to reader. It will work automatically, without requiring Face ID. You can change express mode settings in Wallet.
For initial setup of CarKey, you will need to place your iPhone on top of the NFC reader in your vehicle, according to the strings. Apple says the process may take several minutes to complete. Then, you will need to enter a pairing code provided by your local dealership, or connect using your vehicle brand's app.
Place this iPhone on top of the NFC reader in your car. Pairing process may take several minutes, do not remove it from the reader until pairing is done.
Enter the CarKey code provided by your car dealer or connect using the [Vehicle Brand's] app.
Conveniently, it will be possible to share a CarKey with others, giving them full or restricted unlocking and driving capabilities.
[Vehicle Owner] invited you to use their [Vehicle Model] with unlock & drive access. This allows you to use your iPhone and Apple Watch to unlock/lock the car, start the engine and drive.
Apple would be partnering with automakers on this initiative, suggesting that CarKey could become a factory-installed option like CarPlay. The feature would require an NFC-enabled vehicle, so it would likely be limited to newer models. It is unclear when CarKey may begin rolling out, but perhaps it is planned for the public release of iOS 13.4 within the next few months.

Notably, Apple is a member of the Car Connectivity Consortium, or CCC, which recently announced a new NFC-based Digital Key 2.0 specification that it said would be made available by the end of 2019. The CCC said this specification establishes a secure connection between mobile devices and vehicles using NFC, which continues to operate even when a compatible device's battery is low.

Next, the consortium is developing a Digital Key 3.0 specification based on both Bluetooth LE and Ultra Wideband to enable passive, location-aware keyless access. This would allow you to leave your iPhone in your pocket or backpack when accessing or starting your vehicle. Apple added Ultra Wideband support to its iPhone 11 lineup and promised it would lead to "amazing new capabilities."

The above evidence coupled with related patents is quite compelling evidence that Apple has big plans for digital car keys.

Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOS

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