Apple said it will first roll out CarKey on the 2021 BMW 5 Series, but hopes to expand it to other vehicle models. For example, the driver can set a time limit on how long a shared key can have access to a vehicle.
At Apple's Wordwide Developers' Conference, which was held remotely this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Apple's head of software engineering Craig Federighi said the company was "transforming your relationship with your vehicle by rethinking auto keys". The company is also working to make the same feature possible without taking the phone out of your pocket or bag.
Opening a auto with an app or even a piece of plastic isn't new, of course. The Comfort Access option needs to be ticked when ordering your BMW, and both the phone and auto must be linked to the MyBMW app. The system will open auto doors and start vehicles. The digital key can be configured through the BMW Smartphone App and it can be shared with up to five friends.
The digital key uses NFC technology.
The key will enable customers to tap to unlock, then to place the iPhone in the smartphone tray and push the start button. At least that's how it works on the BMW.
Emily Schubert, Apple senior manager of auto experience engineering, demonstrated how a driver can tap the door handle with their iPhone to unlock the sedan. Sort of like how most keys now work.
While automakers already have apps that can open auto doors and start vehicles, what Apple wants to do is create a standard based on its secure hardware found in the iPhone and Apple Watch. It will integrate the functions of your regular vehicle keys into your phone along with some other features. No one else, not even Apple, has access to that data.
As per Apple, the new feature will work over NFC and the new 2021 BMW 5 Series, which was unveiled recently and it will become the first vehicle to have this feature.
In addition, you can easily share the keys to other users remotely.
Called CarKey, the technology works with near field communication (NFC) and will be supported by the new 2021 BMW 5 series that is set to hit the market next month. So they don't have to wait until this fall when iOS 14 is available to the general public.