Generic image of the new iPhone 4 from Apple. Mobile phone
Generic image of the new iPhone 4 from Apple. Mobile phone

iPhones set for genius new feature

The rise of the iPhone has already killed physical music collections and wallets and now it is coming for your car keys.

Tech blog 9to5Mac found the code for Apple's new digital "CarKey" in the beta version of the new iOS 13.4 in February this year.

BMW could be the first car maker to use Apple’s CarKey virtual key.
BMW could be the first car maker to use Apple’s CarKey virtual key.

The feature would allow drivers to replace their physical car key with a digital version. Tesla, Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai also have similar tech developed in-house.

The digital key uses NFC technology which is a short range wireless connection used by devices to talk to each other.

And unlike tap-and-go banking, Apple's CarKey won't need to be tapped on a certain area but will only need to be close to the vehicle. This means users won't have to take their phone out of their pocket or bag to access and start the car.

Mercedes has developed its own digital key
Mercedes has developed its own digital key

The CarKey will sit in the Apple Wallet app and the key can be shared with friends and family.

9to5Mac has now discovered that BMW appears to be the first brand to use Apple's new digital key.

BMW flagged late last year that digital access to its vehicles was an important new tech it was looking to add to its vehicles.

The head of digital access at BMW said in December the company wanted a uniform technology, hinting BMW would look to tech giants Apple and Google for help. Car makers already use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring tech in their vehicles.

BMW has previously used a plastic card as a digital key.
BMW has previously used a plastic card as a digital key.

It is also believed the Apple CarKey will be compatible with Apple Watch.

BMW has previously used NFC technology in some versions of the new 3 Series sedan, Z4 roadster and 8 Series coupe, but using a waterproof plastic card instead of a digital key.

The digital key technology also opens the door to greater connectivity with car sharing services, as users would no longer need a physical key to access the vehicle but instead receive the virtual key for the time of the loan.

Originally published as iPhones set for genius new feature


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