Apple announces digital car keys for wirelessly unlocking your car with an iPhone

Apple announced at WWDC this week that you can unlock and start your car wirelessly by adding a digital car key to your iPhone or Apple Watch. This feature is part of the newly released iOS 14 and will work over NFC, Apple says. The first support vehicle will be the new 2021 BMW 5 Series, which will be released next month, and Apple said it is developing an industry standard that uses the new U1 ultra-wideband chip instead of relying only on NFC.

To unlock your car after pairing your iPhone or Apple Watch with a car that supports digital car keys, simply lock your Apple device near the NFC reader inside the car (for example, the car door handle). By default, you are not prompted to confirm your identity with your face ID or password, but you can turn off the so-called "Fast Mode" for added security. Apple said this feature will support older iOS 13 as well.

To share your car key, you can share it via the message app. When sharing digital car keys, you can limit certain features of your car, such as acceleration, top speed, or stereo volume limits. This can be useful, for example, if you rent a car to a teenage driver and can revoke the key at any time later. In addition, the company said in the video that they would not know when accessing the vehicle or who shared the vehicle key.

According to Apple, the digital car key works without a network connection, so theoretically it can lock the car even at the depth of the parking lot. After the iPhone battery runs out and goes into "sleep" mode, the key should work "up to 5 hours", which relieves some anxiety about not being able to access the car from a distance. Other car manufacturers are already offering digital keys with similar features, but as a separate app, they offer all the benefits they can offer without being baked directly into the Apple operating system. In iOS, car keys can be centrally placed to keep the digital keys of multiple cars in one place.

NFC's reliance on Apple's digital car keys indicates that this feature can use the Car Connectivity Consortium's digital key release 2.0 specification. It was finished in May. This specification "Supports an extensible architecture for mass adoption while increasing Near Field Communication (NFC) technology for contactless communication between smartphones and vehicles, while reducing costs."

UWB (Ultra Wideband) technology It has been promised to unlock, and it's a lot smoother than Apple's current implementation. The company said, "You can unlock your car while your iPhone is in your bag or pocket." The consortium has already confirmed that the Digital Key Release 3.0 specification already under development will "enhance Bluetooth low energy and ultra-wideband wireless connectivity to support passive, keyless access that is location-agnostic."

Currently, car manufacturers must provide NFC tags, and they must press the tag directly.

According to Sign LinkedIn, he is listed on the board of directors of the Apple SK Yongin Consortium, the company's wireless technology and ecosystem manager. Emily Schubert, Apple's Senior Manager of Automotive Experience Engineering, featured in Apple's WWDC video, was chosen as an alternative to Yong. Interestingly, her name is in Apple's patent for using "portable computing devices" to find vehicles.

Update ET on July 24 at 7:34 pm : Apple has removed references to "Car Key". t seems to have given the official marketing name to the digital car key function. In addition, developer videos for new contexts on the Apple website and digital car keys have been added.

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