Code found in an internal build of iOS 14 points to Apple working with BMW for a new ‘CarKey’ feature in the OS. When the first iOS 13.4 beta was released, it was discovered that Apple was working on allowing one to use their iPhone as a car key. It was later also revealed that one could share the car key over iMessage.
Back in December, BMW had announced that it was working on allowing BMW car owners to provide “keyless” access to their vehicles. The company is already a part of the Car Connectivity Consortium which had finalized the Digital Key standard for cars. Apple is also one of the members of the consortium and has been so since at least 2018.
In October last year, the consortium announced version 2.0 of their Digital Key tech. The new version uses NFC to communicate between phones and vehicles. While BMW and Apple can already make use of Digital Key 2.0, the upcoming version 3.0 will further enhance the experience as it will add “passive, location-aware keyless access.” This will allow one to unlock their vehicle without having to take out their smartphone from their pocket. This specification does require Bluetooth Low Energy and Ultra-Wideband technology which is where the U1 chip of the iPhone 11 series comes in. So far, we have only seen Apple use the U1 chip for AirDrop transfers but it is clear that the chip has a lot of unused potential.
Apple has a very close working relationship with BMW. The latter was the first company to adopt Wireless CarPlay in its vehicles. 9to5Mac believes that Apple will be calling its Digital Key implementation as CarKey which would go well with its CarPlay branding. The feature could be exclusive to the iPhone 11 or newer since it will possibly rely on the U1 chip. Users will be able to manage their CarKey from the Wallet app on their iPhone.
While references to the CarKey feature were first found in iOS 13.4, it is likely that Apple will debut this feature to the public as a part of iOS 14 at WWDC 2020. This feature definitely sounds impressive on paper and it will be interesting to see how it would work in daily life.[Via 9to5Mac]