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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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As discovered in the first beta of iOS 13.4, Apple is working on a new "CarKey" feature that will allow an iPhone or an Apple Watch to unlock, lock, and start NFC-compatible vehicles.

bmw-digital-key.jpg

CarKey "keys" live in the Wallet app and as we found in the first beta, can be shared with other people so you can allow others temporary access to your car. In the second beta of iOS 13.4, there's updated wording concerning sharing, which makes it clear that digital car keys will be able to be sent to people using the Messages app.

CarKey keys will be able to be shared with people in individual conversations but not in group conversations. From iOS 13.4 beta 2:
CarKey is not available in group conversations. You can send CarKey in conversations with an individual.
Sharing a CarKey with someone will allow that person to use their iPhone or Apple Watch to access a compatible car by holding the device near an NFC reader located inside of the vehicle. Keys can be permanent (for a spouse) or temporary (for a valet driver or mechanic).

People who receive a digital key over the Messages app will see text letting them know how it works.
[Vehicle Owner] invited you to use their [Vehicle Model] with unlock & drive access. This allows you to use your iPhone and Apple Watch to unlock/lock the car, start the engine and drive.
CarKey access, like Apple Pay and Apple Cash, is authenticated biometrically using Face ID or Touch ID to make sure the person holding the iPhone is the person with permission to access a car, though there is an "Express Mode: that would presumably work without the need for authentication.

Apple will be partnering with vehicle manufacturers for CarKey, which indicates that it may be a factory installed option much like CarPlay. CarKey requires a vehicle with NFC, so it is something that vehicle manufacturers will need to implement as CarPlay was.

Apple is a member of the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), which has developed an NFC-based Digital Key 2.0 specification made available at the end of 2019. The new specification establishes a secure connection between mobile devices and vehicles over NFC.

The CCC is also working on a Digital Key 3.0 specification based on Bluetooth Le and Ultra Wideband, enabling passive location-aware keyless access. Apple's iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max support Ultra Wideband, so this is CarKey functionality we could see in the future.

There is no word yet on when CarKey will be announced by Apple or when it will start rolling out to new vehicles, but a launch could come with the public release of iOS 13.4.

With Apple rumored to be holding an event on March 31, the CarKey announcement could be made at the event as we expect iOS 13.4's release to coincide with the debut of new devices.

Article Link: Apple's Upcoming 'CarKey' Feature Will Let You Send Digital Keys Using Messages App
 

spinedoc77

macrumors G4
Jun 11, 2009
10,017
3,872
I can finally get rid of my bulky key fob? I don't carry any keys, just the fob so this would be great.
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
11,578
15,901
Central U.S.
It will probably be announced at WWDC with availability starting in 2021 models. I just hope there is an aftermarket option like CarPlay! Now that I work from home, they only key I carry is my car key. Would be great if you could also use it to remote start so I don't have to carry that fob in winter and summer.
 

827538

macrumors 68000
Jul 3, 2013
1,731
1,969
Sounds like version 3.0 will be the one to wait for. Having my phone unlock the car as I get near will be great, I just hope it will be resistant to relay attacks.

I'm getting so close to only having to carry my phone. I just need a digital drivers license then I'll be good to go. I also wish the US would hurry up and accept Apple Pay everywhere like in the UK, christ Walmart get with the times...

Also does anyone else find that fuel pumps with tap to pay never seem to work correctly? My next car will be electric anyway so I guess this isn't too big an issue.
 
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Rychiar

macrumors 6502a
May 16, 2006
882
1,769
Waterbury, CT
It will probably be announced at WWDC with availability starting in 2021 models. I just hope there is an aftermarket option like CarPlay! Now that I work from home, they only key I carry is my car key. Would be great if you could also use it to remote start so I don't have to carry that fob in winter and summer.
2021? Its usually 5 years before normal car manufacturers get with the program with new tech. look how old wireless CarPlay actually is versus the few high end cars its appearing in this year. Hell I remember buying a nice new car in 2007 and not having any way to play and iPod through it.. a device that had existed for 6 years by then and was mainstream
 

iGeneo

macrumors 6502a
Jul 3, 2010
871
1,632
BMW is generally on the forefront of new vehicle tech. Still one of the very few with wireless CarPlay. May make my decision this summer much easier.
 

dchiusa

macrumors newbie
Jan 17, 2014
7
3
Nashville
I can already do this with my iPhone and Lincoln Aviator. Works great. No need for keys. Been using it for a while with ZERO issues so far. Don't have to do anything. Just have the phone in my pocket and touch the door it unlocks and push button it starts.
 

trinec

macrumors member
Jun 1, 2019
73
41
Since the last years i've never opened my car on my own. Just pulled the door. No need for watch or phone (maybe with unlocking?) to pull it out in the rain to enter my car. Seems to be more disattractive. My caraready supports this with android nfc. Just used it once, it isn't a Benefit At all.
 
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dontwalkhand

macrumors 603
Jul 5, 2007
5,692
1,852
Phoenix, AZ
Sounds like version 3.0 will be the one to wait for. Having my phone unlock the car as I get near will be great, I just hope it will be resistant to relay attacks.

I'm getting so close to only having to carry my phone. I just need a digital drivers license then I'll be good to go. I also wish the US would hurry up and accept Apple Pay everywhere like in the UK, christ Walmart get with the times...

Also does anyone else find that fuel pumps with tap to pay never seem to work correctly? My next car will be electric anyway so I guess this isn't too big an issue.
Tap to pay fuel pumps is slow to roll out due to certifications with EMVCo. You can bypass this mess by using the respective fueling apps now which have Apple Pay in them (Mobil, Shell, etc).
 
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swm

macrumors 6502
May 29, 2013
411
669
What about a dead fob?
keyfob last a whole lot more than phones.
on the other hand the phone can be reacharged with a powerbank in no time, whereas some key fob batteries are hard to come by in some places. but power banks now are everywhere.
 

Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
35,568
38,682
This is a feature I will defiantly try. Get rid of that huge key fob.

Huge key fob? I’m not sure what kind of car you have, but I’m actually impressed with how small these key fobs are today in terms of weight/slimness given all their core functionality.

also, there’s something about the overall weight of a key fob that I like, but it feels substantial, But that’s just me appreciating the little things.
 

dontwalkhand

macrumors 603
Jul 5, 2007
5,692
1,852
Phoenix, AZ
What about a dead fob?
Most fobs have a backup metal key inside of them by sliding a switch, including the one in my Mercedes. You slide a black thing over, and out comes a metal key. You would use the metal key to open the door, the fob should still be able to be read to start the car even with a dead battery.

Mercedes already has an app for this as well. You can start the car, unlock the doors, flash lights etc from the app. So does my friend's Toyota. So does my friend's Tesla.
[automerge]1582145746[/automerge]
Huge key fob? I’m not sure what kind of car you have, but I’m actually impressed with how small these key fobs are today in terms of weight/slimness given all their core functionality.

also, there’s something about the overall weight of a key fob that I like, but it feels substantial, But that’s just me appreciating the little things.
Most key fobs seemed to have remained about the same size since the 90's, with today's fobs doing much more than just unlocking the door however. I would much prefer the app, with a fob as a backup, similar to how I use Apple Pay today.
 
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QuarterSwede

macrumors G3
Oct 1, 2005
9,530
1,627
Colorado Springs, CO
What about a dead fob?
With any keyless FAC automobile if the fob is dead you have a real key hidden inside the fob for door unlocking only. To start the vehicle you push the start button with the end of the fob and it starts the car. Not sure how it works other than proximity. I've heard its inductive.
 

CWallace

macrumors G3
Aug 17, 2007
8,743
5,379
Seattle, WA
My 2020 Hyundai Sonata Limited can be unlocked with an Android smartphone using NFC ("Hyundai Digital Key") and I believe they have said that once Apple opens up NFC, they will implement this for iOS, as well, so I am hopeful I will be able to try it out.
 
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