Apple wants the car keys replaced with an iPhone. On Monday the tech company unveiled a new app that uses the smartphone to unlock and start a car at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference or WWDC. While Apple’s long-standing desire to build its own vehicle has not materialized, according to the company, its CarPlay infotainment system is available in 97 per cent of new vehicles.
But it thinks the humble car key, which can take your vehicle’s form on new vehicles, or even feature a screen of its own, can also be more enhanced.
Apple ( AAPL) will roll out the feature on the 2021 BMW 5 Series. It is for the first time but will want to expand it onto other cars. Emily Schubert, Apple’s senior manager of car expertise engineering, showed how a driver can use their iPhone. It is to tap the door handle to unlock the sedan. Drivers then put the iPhone on the charging pad of the vehicle. Also, press the ignition button to start the engine.
Apple Plans for Transition
The Apple system relies on what is known as Near Field Communication. It allows computers to wirelessly share data within a few centimetres of each other. Apple is planning a transition to using a different, ultra-wideband technology, which will allow more distance to be unlocked. An iPhone might remain in a pocket or bag for a driver.
In addition, BMW customers will be able to share the digital car key with friends via iMessage. Volvo offers a similar service, where smartphones can share keys. Apple is partnering with standards organisations to pave the way for more cars to extend the technology. Federighi said next year it expects support for the new ultra-wideband standard to be seen in new vehicles.
In May the Car Connectivity Group, an industry organization, proposed a standardized place to store digital keys. Its members involve major automakers and tech companies like Apple, BMW, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Samsung, Volkswagen and others.