Phone CarKey is coming to iPhone and Apple Watch

Apple users will soon be able to lock, unlock and start their compatible cars using an iPhone or Apple Watch. We explain how it works.

CarKey coming to iPhone and Apple Watch

The Apple CarKey is coming – and motorists will soon be able to lock and unlock their car using an iPhone or Apple Watch. 

This is according to 9to5Mac, which says it has found evidence of a ‘CarKey‘ feature in the beta version of the iOS 13.4 software update.

The website says iOS 13.4 contains references to a CarKey API, which will enable the iPhone or Apple Watch to lock, unlock and even start a car.

Apple released the first developer beta of iOS 13.4 on Wednesday. Along with the CarKey function, the update is expected to add support for new call controls and third-party navigation in Apple CarPlay. There are also nine new Memoji sticker types. Because the world needs more Memoji stickers.

The concept of a digital key is nothing new. In 2017, Volvo became the first manufacturer to offer an app for a mobile phone to replace a physical key with a digital version. Using the Bluetooth-enabled digital key, Volvo owners can lock and unlock the doors or boot, as well as starting the engine.

Tesla Model 3 owners can use a feature called Phone Key, which does exactly what it says. With Bluetooth enabled, the car will unlock as the owner approaches and then be ready to start as normal. Previously, Tesla has recommended using it as the ‘primary method of accessing and starting your vehicle’.

There’s plenty of online evidence to suggest the company has shifted its stance a little.

‘Why put your key in the ignition?’

BMW digital key

Meanwhile, BMW asks: ‘Why put your key in the ignition if you have your smartphone with you?’ The Digital Key can be downloaded to an Android smartphone using the BMW Connected app and shared with family and friends.

Note the reference to Android. News of Apple’s move into the world of the smartphone car key will be music to the ears of BMW owners who have been unable to use such a feature with their iPhone or Apple Watch.

The Apple CarKey will only work with cars that are capable of using near field communications (NFC) which require a fob to start or unlock. 9to5Mac says Apple is ‘already working with some car manufacturers to implement CarKey,’ but it doesn’t say which ones.

It will be a while before Apple users can use the CarKey. In an age when keyless car theft is on the rise, some people might prefer it if the feature doesn’t make it beyond the beta stage… 

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Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Writer with a penchant for #FrenchTat. Also doing a passable impression of Cousin Eddie in an Italian-German beige motorhome.



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