Apple’s new CarKey feature will let you unlock a car with your iPhone

For some time now, Apple’s iPhones and Apple Watches have supported NFC. In the not-so-near future, with an upcoming feature that Apple calls “CarKey,” NFC will be used to allow Apple users to lock, unlock, and start compatible NFC-enabled vehicles using the iPhone or Apple Watch.

Apple CarKey

Juli Clover for MacRumors:

CarKey is a digital protocol that lets an ‌iPhone‌ or ‌Apple Watch‌ with NFC capabilities unlock, lock, start, and otherwise control an NFC-capable vehicle.

Cars do not have NFC functionality by default, so this is a feature that needs to be implemented by automobile manufacturers much like CarPlay.

What can be done with CarKey may vary by car manufacturer, but at a minimum, it seems to be able to unlock your car, lock your car, and start your car, which are the features available with a physical key… Many newer cars these days have key fobs that unlock and start a car just via proximity, and CarKey is a lot like that. CarKey is a digital version of a car key that’s stored inside the Wallet app…

There will be an option to send a digital CarKey to unlock your car to others using the Messages app. This will be useful for valet parking, sharing vehicle access with a spouse or a friend, getting a repair, and other similar situations.

Different levels of access can be provided, so you can do things like provide full unlocking/driving access or more restricted access, such as allowing someone to unlock a car but not start it. Access can be permanent or temporary.

BMW could be first to have Apple's futuristic 'CarKey' iPhone featureMacDailyNews Take: In March, new evidence in iOS 14 code was obtained by 9to5Mac that revealed that Apple is working with BMW to likely be the first carmaker to support CarKey.

It makes sense that BMW would be first to offer the Apple CarKey feature since, back in 2004, BMW was also the first vehicle maker to have seamless integration between Apple’s iPod and a vehicle audio system with the BMW iPod Adapter.

As with CarPlay, we’re going to want to make sure we have Apple CarKey-enabled vehicles, so, yes, this is another smart way to strengthen Apple’s Hotel California ecosystem. You’re going to want an iPhone, an Apple Watch, and, eventually, Apple Glasses even more in the future!


    1. I agree. It is outrageous that BMW charges an annual fee for a consumer to use Apple CarPlay on the car that they purchased from BMW. It is as if BMW is not selling you the entire car. Next, BMW will be charging an annual fee to allow access to the engine; otherwise it will shut down after the “subscription” runs out.

    1. Right… I don’t see the advantage of CarKey. The Model 3 unlocks when you raise your iPhone or Android phone near it (to wake it up). All you have to do is enable it once when you set up the Tesla app, and leave Bluetooth turned on.

      Since (1) car manufacturers need to do work whether they want to support CarKey or do it Tesla’s way, but (2) with CarKey they have to do EXTRA work to work with Android, what’s the big deal about CarKey again?

      Maybe this will be made clearer in the WWDC keynote. (No pun intended.)

  1. If you have a newer Mercedes-Benz, with their Mercedes Me Connect feature, you can simply say, “Hey Siri, start my Mercedes,” from inside the house and it will be running when you get outside.

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