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.
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 and smartphones 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 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 ;)
It’s all pretty straight forward once you pair it with your vehicle ;)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
Any BMW with a factory-original Comfort Access (S322A), automatic transmission and iDrive 7.0 or higher is compatible with Digital Key for Android devices. When it comes to the iPhone Digital key, almost every upcoming vehicle in the BMW range will be compatible with this technology — including the following list of cars built after July 2020:
Want to make sure your car is compatible? Log into the BMW Connected 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.
The BMW ConnectedDrive app is an application integrating your Apple or Android smartphone with your BMW. You can use it 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 Connected App turns your phone into a Digital Key. iPhone owners can also store their Digital Key in Apple Wallet.
Before introducing Operating System 7 to iDrive in July 2020, only a selected number of Android phones were compatible with BMW Digital Key. However, along with the new software came the option of adding the Digital Key to iOS mobile devices as well.
Currently the list of compatible Apple phones includes:
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.
BMW Digital Key for Androids is compatible only with Connected App V6 installed on Samsung phones with Android 8.0+. The list includes, among others:
What you need to set up the BMW Digital Key largely depends on the device you’re using. If you want to add it to your Android device you’ll need:
Check out this video for more information:
In terms of the requirements for Apple devices, what you need to have is:
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.
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.
When BMW introduced its Digital Key to the market in 2018, it was only available for Android phones, and the activation process started off being much more time-consuming than the current one for iOS systems.
Although it may sound easy at first, you actually have to go through a bunch of steps to activate your Digital Key on an Android device:
Want to see how it works? Have a look at this video:
The Digital Key activation procedure BMW has introduced for iPhones this year is less involved than for Android smartphones. It takes only your car and your phone to be compatible for you to be able to set up the Digital Key. So, what are the steps this time?
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:
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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