BMW Digital Key Can Now Be Shared Between iPhone and Android Devices

BMW now allows sharing Digital Key across iPhone and Android devices 6 photos
Photo: BMW
BMW now allows sharing Digital Key across iPhone and Android devicesApple Digital Key for iPhone on BMWApple Digital Key for iPhone on BMWApple Digital Key for iPhone on BMWBMW now allows sharing Digital Key across iPhone and Android devices
Two years ago, BMW unveiled the Digital Key, allowing BMW owners to use their smartphones to lock, unlock and start their vehicles. At first, it was only available for iPhone users, but in 2021, Android users also got the feature. Nevertheless, sharing a Digital Key between the two ecosystems is only possible now.
BMW brags about being among the first carmakers to advance digitization inside its vehicles. In 2015, locking and unlocking the car from a distance was considered fringe. Of course, the technological push had also led to security incidents when hackers discovered that BMW cars communicated via unencrypted messages on the Internet. But that hasn’t deterred BMW from developing new technologies, and its iDrive interface is now considered among the most advanced in the industry.

BMW also pioneered the Digital Key concept, allowing owners to use the smartphone instead of a physical key. The feature, which uses the NFC capability in modern smartphones, was introduced in 2020 to iPhone users. Later, it was expanded with the Digital Key Plus, which leverages the ultra-wideband capability of some smartphones. Starting in 2021, it was also available for Android smartphone users. Nevertheless, the Android implementation lacked the flexibility of the iOS approach, which I know sounds like a silly thing to say.

Specifically, iPhone users could share their Digital Key using Apple iMessage, but Android users could not. It took another year before BMW realized that Android users might use the same feature. Not only that, but the new update to the Digital Key concept allows sharing of a BMW Digital Key across platforms between iPhone and Android devices. Better late than never, they say, and we salute BMW for choosing to improve this feature.

From now, there’s no need for a specific app or a set method of transmission to share the Digital Key. Instead, the keys can be easily passed on to friends or family from the wallet using the native “share” function of the smartphone. This means that sharing a key is as easy as sharing a link, and you can do it via email, SMS, or any other messaging service available. Moreover, you can also share the key via Apple AirDrop or Android Nearby Share when you’re standing next to the recipient.

BMW has baked security features into the sharing feature. Still, it doesn’t say more than “in certain cases, an activation code may have to be entered in the vehicle’s infotainment system.” Of course, as best practice, the sender would ideally disclose this code via a different communication channel. Once the Digital Key has been received, you can add it to Apple Wallet or Google Wallet. If you use the Apple ecosystem, you can also add it to Apple Watch.

The new function will be available to all new vehicles with BMW Digital Key or BMW Digital Key Plus and older cars with a 22-11 software update or later. Cross-platform sharing will initially be available for compatible iPhones (running iOS 16.1 or later) and Google smartphones (Pixel 6/6 Pro and Pixel 7/7 Pro running Android 13 or later), with models from Samsung, set to follow shortly.
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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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