Your whole family need not use a single brand of smartphone anymore.
The BMW Group has announced that it is now possible to share a BMW Digital Key across platforms, specifically between iPhone and Android devices. This is an improvement on the previous arrangement, in which keys could only be shared via Apple iMessage, which meant that only iPhones could be used as a Digital Key. The feature originally debuted on the 2021 BMW 5 Series.
With the updated functionality of the system, sharing a BMW Digital Key can be done by simply sending a link via e-mail, text, or chat service (like WhatsApp). The link can also be shared via Apple AirDrop or Android Nearby Share. BMW says that the recipient does not need a specific app or even a BMW ID to take advantage of the Digital Key. Still, iPhone users have an added benefit; once a link has been received and activated on an iPhone, it can be added to an Apple Watch too.
BMW says the feature is available for all new vehicles with BMW Digital Key or BMW Digital Key Plus, while older vehicles can access the feature if their software is updated to status "22-11" or later using a Remote Software Upgrade.
Unfortunately, there is a small caveat: Samsung smartphones are not yet compatible, only iPhone and Google devices. iPhones running iOS 16.1 or later will work, as will Google Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel 6, and Pixel 6 Pro devices operating on Android 13 or newer software.
For devices that can use the feature, up to five users can take advantage of one Digital Key.
A year ago, coding on the older Apple iOS 15 system revealed that the Apple CarKey would be coming to Hyundai and Genesis vehicles, marking the first time the app would become accessible by automotive brands other than BMW. Similarly, Samsung's take on the technology was expanded to various Genesis models in April last year.
The benefit of such a feature is that one household can own a single car while limiting features and accessibility depending on the driver. For example, a parent can create a profile for their teen with limited top speed, horsepower, media volume, and other restrictions.