Apple‘s Car Key is an incredibly convenient feature but it only works with compatible vehicles and the list is still quite small. When it works, it’s quite a relief, allowing an iPhone owner to simply walk up to their car and be recognized via this technology, causing the doors to unlock. They lock again when walking away, seamlessly protecting the car with no effort. It also works with an Apple Watch making it nearly impossible to get locked out of a vehicle, as long as the car supports Apple‘s digital key feature.

The Apple Wallet is well on its way to replacing a physical wallet, with Apple Pay being accepted almost everywhere and digital IDs and driver’s licenses finally beginning to appear. Smart locks can be opened with an iPhone or Apple Watch, as well. By adding the capability to hold digital car keys, an Apple Watch or iPhone might soon become the only thing needed when traveling, leaving for school, or commuting to the office. Apple’s Car Key works with the iPhone XS or later, iPhone SE 2, an Apple Watch Series 5 or later, or Apple Watch SE.

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While Apple Car Key was once a BMW exclusive, the feature has recently expanded to include certain Kia and Genesis vehicles as well. A total of 18 cars now support Apple’s digital locking, unlocking, and starting feature. The majority are made by BMW, having added this feature in 2021, while Hyundai’s Genesis and close partner Kia only support digital keys for select 2022 models. The new 2022 Genesis GV60 and G90 sedans work with Apple’s Car Key and the 2022 Kia Niro is the first low-cost vehicle with this feature. This means iPhone and Apple Watch owners with these cars have the extra convenience of opening and starting without physical keys and the option to temporarily share a digital key with friends, family, and coworkers.

Apple Car Key & BMW

For BMW, the list of compatible vehicles includes the BMW 1 Series through 6 Series and 8 Series made in 2021 and 2022. For some reason, the BMW 7 Series does not support this feature. The 2021 and 2022 BMW X5, X6, X7 crossovers, and BMW Z4 sports cars work with Apple’s Car Key, as well as the 2022 BMW i4 and iX. If the M variants of the X series cars are included, BMW represents fifteen of the spots in Apple’s list of compatible vehicles.

Unfortunately, the most popular cars don’t yet support Apple’s Car Key and those that do are primarily luxury cars. While some third-party solutions are available, they require installing hardware in the vehicle as well as opening an app on the phone to access unlocking. A combination of complicated installation that involves a trip to a car service shop, high cost, and ongoing subscription fees make third-party options less attractive. Apple’s Car Key is clearly the preferable solution and hopefully, more automakers will add support in the near future.