Apple CarKey in iOS 13.4 Beta Offers Phone-Based Access, Starting, and Sharing of Keys

Exciting news from developers testing iOS 13.4 beta today as there is evidence of a new feature that will make it possible to use your iPhone and Apple Watch as a car key to unlock/lock, start, and share your vehicle. Near-Field Communication (NFC) will be the protocol of choice, as it works in a range of 1-2 inches.

iOS 13.4 contains references to a “CarKey” API, and users will be able to use CarKey in NFC-compatible cars, as they only need to hold the phone/watch near the vehicle to gain access, much like how today’s keyless access fobs.

Face ID authentication is said to not be needed, which will allow the CarKay to work even when the iPhone or Apple Watch are out of battery power.

Developers say the Wallet app will have settings for adjusting the level of authentication required to use CarKey.

The pairing process will be done through the Wallet app, and then the car manufacturer’s app will be needed to proceed with the setup. Users will place the iPhone on top of the NFC reader in the vehicle during the initial setup, and then CarKey will be available in the Wallet app. After that, the key can be added to Apple Watch.

What’s even more interesting is “sharing” of CarKey with others, and how that’ll work legally from an insurance and security perspective. This would be a huge gateway to the world of car sharing and push the insurance industry to restructure how they cover drivers and their vehicles.

Apple is already working with some car manufacturers to implement CarKey, which is interesting as we’ve only heard of a handful currently offering it. The 2020 Hyundai Sonata offers NFC entry using Android devices, and like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, we expect adoption to take several model years.

Either way, this is great news for those of us who like to carry less stuff and never have to think about losing an expensive key fob ever again!

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