Are Digital Car Keys the Way of the Future?

Jane Lu
Updated on Apr 27, 2022 · 3 min read
Automakers are constantly developing new and better
car technology
, and there have been a few advances to car keys. Keyless fobs allow you to lock, unlock, and start your car, but now more companies are offering digital car keys. One of these companies is the tech giant,
With a fob, you still have to carry around a physical object. Digital car keys allow you to unlock your and start your car with your smartphone. According to
, Apple announced that Apple CarKey will be part of iOS 13 and 14 with an expansion coming for iOS 15.
Digital car keys are an up-and-coming technology | Twenty20

How do you use the Apple CarKey?

Your iPhone or Apple Watch can now be used as a car key for compatible vehicles. This service will allow supported devices to unlock, start, and lock the vehicle using NFC or, after the release of iOS 15, ultra-wideband (UWB). Apple taking this step might help popularize digital car keys which are still uncommon.
Your digital car key will be securely stored in your Apple Wallet like your Apple Pay payment methods. If you hold your device near the door handle, Apple CarKey will use NFC to authenticate your device and your car.
Once your device is recognized, the car door will unlock. After that, you’ll need to place the device into the tray to authenticate again to make sure it’s in the vehicle before the car starts. UWB will be able to provide precise location information, so the device can still be verified even if it’s in a bag or a pocket.

What vehicles are compatible with Apple CarKey?

Pocket-lint reported that the 2021
5 series is the first car that will support Apple CarKey. The NFC version will also be available in BMW's one through eight series, X5, X6, X7, X5M, X6M, and Z4s manufactured after July 1, 2020.
BMW has been a strong supporter of Apple technology. BMW was the first to support iPod integration and offer wireless CarPlay.
has investigated similar UWB technology, but BMW is the only manufacturer that has announced they’d support Apple CarKey, according to Pocket-Lint.

The future of digital car keys

Major tech companies like Apple and Google are working to provide better support and security for digital car keys as demand grows. Some manufacturers offer digital keys through their own apps. As leading automakers start to adopt this technology, it’s likely that digital car keys will become more widespread.
As digital key technology becomes more common, companies will have to address concerns such as device batteries dying, forgotten phones, and hacking risks. Digital car keys might even have an impact on your car insurance costs in the future.
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