BMW has announced that it plans to release its BMW Digital Key Plus feature to iPhone users in the near future. Digital Key Plus will enable drivers to unlock and start their vehicle without having to take their phone out of their pocket or bag thanks to the new Ultra-Wideband technology BMW is incorporating into the feature.
This advanced version of the Apple digital car keys eliminates that extra step when getting into your vehicle and starting it up. Within the press release, BMW explains that this latest innovation is made possible due to the Ultra-Wideband technology found on the U1 chip of the iPhone. While Digital Key Plus is still in active development, it will first be launched with the all-electric BMW iX.
The BMW iX will first release in Europe near the tail end of 2021. Afterwards, a North American release is scheduled for 2022. Therefore, the Digital Key Plus feature will be available in the US and Canada early next year.
Ultra-Wideband technology uses short-range, high-bandwidth digital radio communications to pinpoint precise localization. Additionally, BMW ensures that the tech is highly secure and is able to withstand relay attacks which can jam or intercept the radio signal. Using this technology, an iPhone user must only be near their vehicle for the car to unlock itself and start the engine.
BMW has been working closely with Apple on the Car Connectivity Consortium in order to properly establish the Digital Key specification 3.0 for Ultra-Wideband. The two companies hope to create the gold standard for the automotive industry moving forward.
Apple’s U1 chip was first introduced in the iPhone 11 and later the iPhone 12. Apple Watch Series 6 also features a U1 chip. While BMW does not outright say whether Digital Key Plus will be compatible with Apple Watch, users may have the option of using it as an alternative to their iPhone.