Smartphone car keys are nothing new, but its lack of standardization has killed its mainstream adoption. For smartphone car keys to work, you have to own a unique combination of the right car, the right app, and the right smartphone. That’s about to change with Apple CarKey–which is one of the newest features of iOS 14.
The way Apple CarKey works is through NFC. The user simply brings the phone near the NFC chip (usually near the door handle) and then the iPhone will ask the user to authenticate using Face ID or Touch ID before the car unlocks. Users can also set-up Express Mode if they don’t want to undergo the authentication process.
Apple CarKey also lets owners share their keys to other people and add restrictions, such as speed limits if you are lending your car to a teen driver. The first car to support this feature will be the recently facelifted 2021 BMW 5 Series, which will go on sale in the US this July and in the Philippines by early 2021. It’s also coming to other BMW models soon.
Unlike the smartphone car keys in existence today, you do not need to have a separate app. Apple CarKey is built inside the iOS ecosystem itself. Another advantage of this is the possibility of having multiple car keys from various car brands all consolidated in the operating system itself. No need to switch to different apps for different car brands.
Apple worked with industry group Car Connectivity Consortium to layout the universal groundwork for CarKey. Apple, Audi, BMW, General Motors, Hyundai, LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Volkswagen are also part of the project.
Apple also says that it is seeking to further take advantage of the iPhone’s U1 chip by 2021, which will use Ultra Wideband spatial awareness to let users unlock and start the car without pulling the iPhone out of the pocket.
Also part of the iOS 14 update is a new version of Apple CarPlay. This smartphone integration feature is almost universally standard on new cars nowadays, with as much as 80 percent of new cars sold around the world equipped with this feature. Apple has given a few updates CarPlay, one of which will now let users change the wallpaper instead of simply relying on its white or black background (when Dark Mode is activated). Apple has also said it will increase the number of app categories that it will support for CarPlay.