Finally, Apple is allowing its iPhone’s NFC to be used as a digital key with its new Car Key feature. This allows you to keep your physical keys at home and just use the iPhone to unlock and to start the car.
At the moment, Apple Car Key is only supported on the latest 2021 BMW 5 series that will be released in the US next month. Several existing BMW models including the new BMW X5 can already support digital key with a compatible Samsung phone with NFC.
Once a phone is registered, you can tap the iPhone on the door handle to unlock the vehicle. To start the engine, just place the iPhone on the wireless charger and then push the start button.
The digital keys are stored within the secure element on the iPhone. If you lose your iPhone, you can clear the keys remotely via iCloud.
In addition, you can easily share the keys to other users remotely. Car Key allows you to share keys to contacts via iMessage and you can even set restricted driving profile which could possibly allow you to set speed limit and other restrictions for the particular profile.
Even before iOS 14 is released, the Car Key feature will be available on iOS 13 via an update so new car owners can start using it sooner. Apple wants to expand the feature to more vehicles and they are working on standards with various industry groups.
Apple is also working on technologies to allow users to unlock without the need to tap via NFC. The new feature will utilise its U1 chip for wide spatial awareness and the ultra-wideband technology is currently supported on the current iPhone 11 series. If this is implemented, you could unlock the car without taking the iPhone out from your pocket or bag. They expect the feature to be adopted on newer cars released in 2021.