Apple CarKey: New feature might allow iPhones to start your car

Apple released iOS 13.4 Beta 1 today, and there are references to a new feature that might allow you to unlock/start your car just by using your iPhone or Apple Watch. The references were spotted by 9to5Mac.

The beta update has references to “CarKey” API, that could allow usage of NFC-enabled Apple devices to use NFC to unlock or even start your car. This type of feature has been available in Android for years, due to the open nature of its ecosystem. Hyundai and other cars have digital key apps for Android that are used to unlock cars with that capability. However, the reliability of the security of these features has never been perfect, due to the open-source nature of Android.

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Apple’s CarKey API may allow car manufacturers to enable functionality within their apps to allow access to cars via Apple’s NFC support. However, the car must first have the required hardware to be able to communicate with the iPhone/Apple Watch. The most exciting thing to look out for will be the Apple Watch CarKey functionality.

Using an iPhone to unlock your car is quite normal, as it can be done without NFC via the internet on cars today, such as Tesla cars via the Tesla app. You can even set up to use Bluetooth between a Tesla car and your iPhone on the Tesla app to unlock your car. However, this can lead to unintentional unlocks in close proximity. Using an Apple Watch while pulling on the handle of a car as it unlocks seems really futuristic.

Only references have been made in the first beta of iOS 13.4, and not present as a full feature. Though it is unsure if Apple will pull through to develop this API, it does seem likely as they have been focusing on improving CarPlay recently, and this is a perfect fit with that.

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