The Apple iPhone CarKey Is Exactly What It Sounds Like
You’re already carrying your smartphone with you wherever you go, fearful of ever being more than an arm’s length from the little battery-powered silicon slab of connectivity. What if you could use it as a car key, as well?
If nothing else, it would mean one less thing to worry about grabbing before you head out the door, and you’d be able to breeze into your car and start it with your phone operating in the background as an authentication device and key. You might even be able to share your car with a friend or family member simply by enabling access via app.
According to Forbes, leaked details of the upcoming iOS 14 operating system point to this becoming a reality in relatively short order—if you’re part of the Apple ecosystem, at least—likely as an upgrade for the iPhone 11. It will be called, creatively enough, CarKey.
Interestingly, screenshots of the development version of the CarKey app use a rendering of the BMW i8 as the paired vehicle:
Ready to take the i8 for a spin @MaxWinebach? pic.twitter.com/bmKqY71BEd
This software was no doubt in the works well before the i8’s discontinuation was announced. But it suggests that BMW will be one of the initial automakers to receive the technology—though whether it will be an exclusive offering for a time, or whether Apple developers are simply using BMW as a stand-in, remains unclear.
Either way, it won’t be confined solely to the German luxury realm forever; as the Forbes article points out, Apple is a partner of the so-called Car Connectivity Consortium, which also includes General Motors, Volkswagen, Honda and Hyundai, as well as other technology companies like Samsung and LG.
What sets up Apple to be an early provider of the tech? It has to do with hardware. The CCC’s car key specifications require the use of both Bluetooth and ultra-wideband (UWB) to work. So far, the only smartphones shipping with a UWB chip are the Apple iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. Assuming they add UWB tech to their offerings down the road, there’s nothing precluding Android phone manufacturers from offering this sort of tech.
Tesla, for the record, has already rolled out similar functionality; with its Phone Key (automakers are really taking big risks with the names here) tech enabled, you simply walk up to your car with a Bluetooth-linked phone on your person, hop in and go. The car unlocks and prepares to drive automatically. Very futuristic, when it works: The app glitched last year, leaving some Tesla owners locked out of their cars—probably more an indictment of capricious phone apps than Tesla specifically.
Hopefully Apple locks this down before rolling CarKey out, or there are going to be a lot of peeved iPhone-owning drivers stuck outside their vehicles …with plenty of free time to roast the company on Twitter.
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