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Category: BMW Key Fob

BMW Digital Key - what is it and how to use it?

Bianka Rommel

Jan 18, 2021

BMW Digital Key - what is it and how to use it?

BMW has long been recognised for introducing many technological advancements to its vehicles, and always looking forward to improving customer experience. Their Digital Key is another high-tech project that only proves the company’s leadership position in modern car technology.   

But what is this Digital Key exactly? How does it work? And which cars are compatible with the new feature?  In our blog post you’ll find out everything you need to know about BMW’s latest invention. Dig in and get a taste of the future with the Digital Key. 

BMW Digital Key

What is BMW Digital Key?

Next to the broad-ranging annual changes BMW grants its loyal fans is an extra treat that answers their practical needs — BMW Digital Key. It is nothing less than a car key app for iPhones that allows you to conveniently unlock and lock your BMW or even start the engine without using a physical key. Stored securely in your ConnectedDrive app / My BMW app or Wallet app, the Digital Key also gives you the option of sharing your key access with up to 5 other people! Now, that’s something you definitely can’t do so easily with a standard key fob ;) 

Learn all about BMW key fobs and their features from this blog post.

How does the BMW Digital Key work?

It’s all pretty straight forward once you pair it with your vehicle ;)  

Door lock

If you want to unlock the driver’s door using your digitized key, you have to hold the top of your phone near the door handle (let’s say 1.5 inches) until a check mark appears on your display and you see a notification “Done”. Then, your phone will unlock only the driver’s side door. 

The preset Express Mode will let you open the door or start the car without the need to unlock your phone first. However, if you’d prefer to have greater control over your vehicle opening or starting, you can disable this feature manually. In this case, you’ll have to set an identification method — FaceID, TouchID or passcode.

Engine start

Starting your car also couldn't be any easier with the BMW Digital Key. To do it, simply lie your phone down on the charging tray. Your vehicle will automatically turn on its engine with only one push of the start/stop button.

Did you know you can do a remote engine start even with your standard BMW key fob? Learn all about it and discover more BMW key fob hidden features in this blog post. 

Digital Key For5

Sharing is caring, they say? ;) With BMW Digital Key you can securely share your key with up to 5 other people — of course you decide when to grant them permission and (importantly) when to revoke it. If you want to let somebody else use your car key, just send them an invitation from the app and add them to your users list.

Teenager control

You can also choose the type of access and restrict certain features. When you share your Digital Key with your children, for example, you can set speed limitations or ensure that the Dynamic Stability Control and Intelligent Safety can’t be deactivated. Or, if your child likes their music a little too loud, you can limit stereo volume. All of the restrictions, though, may vary depending on your car. 

No connection

According to Apple the Digital Key doesn’t need any network connection to lock or unlock your vehicle. So even if your car is in an underground parking garage, you should have no problems with controlling your vehicle. Or if it happens that your phone’s battery has run out and switched into power saving mode, the Digital Key should still work “for up to 5 hours”. 

Which BMW has the Digital Key

Any BMW with factory-original Comfort Access (S322A), automatic transmission and iDrive 7.0 or higher is compatible with Digital Key for iPhone. Plus, almost every upcoming vehicle in the BMW range will be compatible with this technology — including the following list of cars built after July 2020:

  • 1 Series
  • 2 Series
  • 3 Series
  • 4 Series
  • 5 Series
  • 6 Series
  • 8 Series
  • X5
  • X6
  • X7
  • M5 
  • M8
  • X5 M
  • X6 M
  • Z4

Want to make sure your car is compatible? Log into the BMW Connected App or My BMW App with your BMW ID and add your vehicle to your account — if you see a section “Digital Key” with a ticked box, it means your car is compatible. If you’d like to confirm it another way, contact your BMW dealer.

Although the Digital Key retrofit is currently not available at the BimmerTech store, we constantly develop the latest technology retrofits for BMWs. Sign up to our newsletter and be the first to know what’s coming for your model.

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What is BMW Connected App / My BMW App?

The BMW ConnectedDrive App and My BMW App are applications integrating your Apple or Android smartphone with your BMW. In their premise, both of them are essentially the same app, but the My BMW App is soon to fully replace the BMW ConnectedDrive App.

You can use them for multiple functions, like programming destinations before you get into your car, setting the climate control, flashing your headlights, sounding the horn and locking or unlocking doors. But most importantly, the ConnectedDrive App and My BMW App can turn your phone into a Digital Key. iPhone owners can also store their Digital Key in Apple Wallet.

BMW Digital Key compatible phones — BMW Connected App

Before introducing Operating System 7 to iDrive in July 2020, only a selected number of Android phones were compatible with BMW Digital Key. Unfortunately for Android owners, as of now, the Digital Key functionality is no longer supported by smartphones. However, along with the new software came the option of adding the Digital Key to iOS mobile devices. 

BMW Digital Key iPhone

Currently the list of compatible Apple phones includes:

  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone XS 
  • iPhone XS Max 
  • iPhone 11 
  • iPhone 11 Pro 
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max 
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation) 
  • Apple Watch Series 5 
  • and newer models

NOTE: To add the BMW Digital Key, your mobile device will have to be supported by the upcoming iOS 13.6 or WatchOS 6.2.8.

What do I need for the BMW Digital Key?

What you need to set up the BMW Digital Key on your iPhone is:

  • BMW Comfort Access (S322A)
  • Active ConnectedDrive Services on your BMW 
  • A compatible iPhone
  • An established link between your car and BMW ID (via the latest version of the BMW Connected app). 

Not familiar with the Comfort Access feature? Check out how it can bring convenience to your everyday driving.

NOTE: To add a Digital Key, your vehicle has to be equipped with the Comfort Access function from the factory. Our Comfort Access retrofit won’t make it possible to activate this key in your car.

Is BMW Digital Key free?

Yes, it is free for the first year of usage. After the first year, if you want to keep the feature of Digital Key For5, you’ll be charged $88 annually.

How to activate BMW Digital Key

Here are the steps to activate BMW Digital Key on an iPhone: 

  • Create your BMW ID and add your vehicle to the BMW Connected app.
  • Enter your vehicle having both of your regular car keys with you to prove that you’re the owner, and go to the Digital Key menu in the app.
  • Tap the ‘Start Pairing’ button and follow the instructions given on the BMW Connected menu.
  • Put your iPhone in the charging tray and that’s it. From now on, your Digital Key will be stored in the Apple Wallet app.

Got to activate your newly replaced remote key fob? Learn all about key fob coding and activation from our blog post.

BMW Digital Key card

If a Digital Key isn’t enough, you can get extra convenience with its card version — the Digital Key Card. The Digital Key Card has exactly the same features as its phone counterpart, and can be used independently from the key on your phone. In order to get the Digital Key Card, once again you’ll have to go through a bunch of steps:

  1. First, get in touch with a BMW Center to inquire about the Digital Key Card and send them your VIN.
  2. When your order is ready you can pick up your card from your BMW Center.
  3. Just like the key fob, the Digital Key Card is unique to your car, so you’ll have to activate it either yourself or with the dealer.
  4. To activate it, you have to put the Key Card in the smartphone tray and follow the instructions on the vehicle’s display. 

How safe is the BMW Digital Key?

If you're worried that the BMW Digital Key solution may not be the safest, we’d like to dispel all of your doubts. The Digital Key is saved in the Secure Element of your phone and supported by the near-field communication technology. This means you get a high level of data protection, which enables sending a signal between your phone and your BMW only when both of them are in close proximity.

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