Currently reading: New Apple CarKey iPhone function to make debut on BMW models
BMW customers will be able to use their iPhone to unlock and start their car at the touch of a button

Apple has launched a new CarKey function that allows drivers to unlock and start their car using their iPhone - and BMW will be the first manufacturer to adopt the system.

The function will be introduced on the latest versions of Apple’s iOS smartphone operating system. While several cars makers offer digital keys through their own smartphone apps, this is the first time Apple has introduced such a system as a standard part of its operating system.

The driver will have to pair their iPhone or Apple Watch with a vehicle that supports the feature. They can then choose from a range of security levels, from requiring a face or fingerprint scan to unlock the vehicle to using near-field communication technology to automatically unlock the vehicle whenever the phone is close.

Vehicle owners will also be able to use iPhone messages to share digital car keys with friends or family members.

BMW is the first manufacturer to announce that it will integrate the new Apple function into its vehicles. Owners will be able to unlock their vehicle by using the BMW Digital Key function in their iPhone's Apple Wallet. They will then be able to automatically start it by placing your iPhone in a special smartphone tray and pressing the engine start button.

BMW owners will be able to share access with up to five people and to restrict top speed, horsepower, radio volume and other features for guest drivers.

The BMW Digital Key function will work on any 1 Series, 2 Series, 3 Series, 4 Series, 5 Series, 6 Series, 8 Series, X5, X6, X7 or Z4 built after 1 July this year. Owners will need an iPhone XR, XS or newer.

Apple has also added a news function to the navigation software in Apple Maps and paired with BMW to develop a feature that plots optimum recharging points for EV owners on longer journeys. The latter will be available in the BMW i4 that's due to launch next year.


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James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
Title: Acting magazine editor

James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport,, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets. 

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Paul Dalgarno 23 June 2020

My phone is already my key

Model 3. Phone in pocket and bluetooth. I have my phone with my anyway, so couldn't be more convenient. Hmmm, nobody remember door locks freezong in winter, or wearing and breaking. Not all new technology is bad. 

Deputy 23 June 2020

Another Autocar Cut and Paste

Seriously Autocar, please at least get someone to cut and paste articles who understands what they are pasting.  BMW's have been able to use Android phones to do this for over a year, but this articles makes it sound like it's ground breaking stuff......

hackjo 23 June 2020

I have a really clever,

I have a really clever, integrated gadget for getting into my car. Its light, convenient, easy to store, works every time and I can even open the car without it leaving my pocket.

It's called a remote keyfob.