BMW drivers will be able to unlock cars without touching their iPhone

The automaker is upgrading the BMW Digital Key with ultra-wideband tech.


BMW has announced a upgraded version of the BMW Digital Key feature for iPhone. With Digital Key Plus, drivers will be able to unlock and start their car without taking their phone out of their pocket or bag.

The automaker is tapping into the ultra-wideband (UWB) capabilities of the U1 chip, which Apple introduced with the iPhone 11. The short-range, high-bandwidth radio tech supports features that require precise location finding and high levels of security — such as authenticating a driver and automatically unlocking their car door. As BMW notes, with UWB, it's impossible to carry out relay attacks, which jam or intercept a radio signal.

BMW didn’t reveal exactly when Digital Key Plus will arrive. The first car that will support it is the electric iX SUV, which is isn’t expected to go on sale before the end of this year. BMW and Apple have been collaborating with the Car Connectivity Consortium to develop an open standard for UWB-enabled digital keys, so other carmakers may support the tech too.