- apple announced digital key that opens and starts vehicles using the iphone and apple watch.
- the first vehicle that will support the system is the 2021 bmw 5-series.
- the feature will roll out next month on ios 13, and apple is working with industry groups to bring the feature to more cars in 2021.
if you've ever decided that your car key is just too bulky, apple has a solution. the company announced at its annual world wide developers conference that its digital key solution is coming to ios 13 and the upcoming ios 14. the first automaker partner will be bmw, but apple says it's working on a standard to make it work with more cars next year.
opening a car with an app or even a piece of plastic isn't new, of course. for the bmw, setup will take place via the bmw app. the system will open car doors and start vehicles. plus, on the bmw, an owner can share the key with five others via apple's imessage texting app with either full access or a restricted driving profile that lets you control top speed, horsepower, maximum radio volume, and other features—helpful for when you want to give a teen access to the car.
the digital key uses nfc technology. the driver can just tap the vehicle to unlock it and once in the vehicle, put the phone in the charging tray and start it. at least that's how it works on the bmw. the digital key will live in the iphone’s wallet app. apple says it’s working to make it possible in the future to do all of this without taking your phone out of your pocket or bag. sort of like how most keys currently work.
if you're concerned about your phone becoming worthless and stranding you if the iphone's battery is depleted, bmw states that there is a power reserve feature where the phone will still function as a key for up to five hours after the phone turns off because of a low battery.
apple touted the security around the digital key feature saying that keys can be disabled for other drivers from the phone and if your phone goes missing, access to the vehicle can be revoked via apple’s cloud service, icloud.
while automakers already have apps that can open car 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. that hardware ensures that the encryption keys that make the phone or watch talk to the car stay on the actual device. no one else, not even apple, has access to that data.
apple announced that it was already working with auto-industry groups to make the system work with more cars and is hoping to expand the feature to other vehicles next year. it's likely each automaker will want to implement its own options within apple's digital key, but at today's event, the tech company was very excited about the ability to share keys over imessage.
fortunately for bmw 5-series owners, the feature will be available starting in july on iphone that use ios 13. so they don’t have to wait until this fall when ios 14 is available to the general public.