Apple’s iPhone and Apple Watch can now replace BMW, Mercedes-Benz, other makers’ key fobs

Drivers may soon have another brand to consider when shopping for cars that support Apple’s Car Key feature as Mercedes-Benz appears to be ready to launch support.

Apple-led Car Connectivity Consortium publishes white paper on the future of vehicle access with digital key

You can use your car key on your iPhone or Apple Watch to lock, unlock, and start your car. The way that you use your key and the features available depend on the model of your car. Contact the manufacturer or your dealership to find out what features your key supports.

When you add your car key to the Wallet app, Express Mode is turned on automatically. Express Mode allows you to use your car key without unlocking your device, or authenticating with Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode.

Zac Hall for 9to5Mac:

BMW has the most vehicles offered with Car Key support, with several model year 2021 and later cars supported. Kia, Hyundai, Genesis, and BYD round out the list of brands offering Car Key today.

Last month, Nicolás Alvarez on Twitter shared evidence that British sports car firm Lotus appears ready to roll out Car Key as well. Mercedes-Benz made the news official around the same time for its E-Class lineup…

With Lotus still pending, Mercedes-Benz makes the sixth car brand to adopt Car Key support.

MacDailyNews Note: Mercedes-Benz’s official announcement:

With the Digital Vehicle Key, the E-Class can be started and locked simply by the driver carrying a compatible iPhone or Apple Watch. Key sharing is also possible: various digital channels can be used to invite family members or friends to use the E-Class. In doing so, the main user of the Mercedes me account can assign different rights, granting only access to the vehicle or also allowing it to be driven.

The vehicle can recognise several users at once, and the Digital Vehicle Key can be shared with up to 16 people. Sharing is possible via AirDrop®, iMessage® and other messaging services. The recipient can then add it to his/her own Apple Wallet.

The Digital Vehicle Key only requires a network connection for the initial one-time set-up and for sharing. After that, it works without mobile phone reception – so also in underground garages, for example. The system uses Bluetooth and ultra-wideband technology (UWB). This digital radio technology for close-range use is considered particularly secure.

Another advantage is that the main user always retains the ability to revoke other user rights, for example in the event of the key-enabled device being lost. This can also be done via Apple Wallet or the MBUX infotainment system.

In those markets where Mercedes me connect services are available, Pre-installation for the Digital Vehicle Key forms part of the KEYLESS-GO Comfort Package. This equipment combination is available in the new E-Class from the Premium Package onwards.

• A personal Mercedes me ID and agreement to the Terms of Use for the Mercedes me connect services are required to use the Mercedes me connect services. In addition, the vehicle must be paired with the corresponding user account. Upon expiry of the initial term, the services can be renewed on payment of a fee, provided they are still offered for the corresponding vehicle at that point. First activation of the services is possible within one year from first vehicle registration or commissioning by the customer, whichever comes first. Use of the Digital Vehicle Key also requires the customer’s own data volume.

• At market launch, the Digital Vehicle Key is compatible with iPhone 11 and later (except iPhone SE) as well as Apple Watch 6 and later (except Apple Watch SE). The prerequisite is UWB capability. Mercedes-Benz is working steadily to expand compatibility with other devices.

• In addition to the KEYLESS-GO access and drive authorisation system and the pre-installation for the Digital Vehicle Key, this includes the features flush-mounted door handles, convenience opening and closing and remote boot closing.

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  1. Fob is a word used to describe a key chain and several other similar items and devices. The word fob is believed to have originated from watch fobs, which existed as early as 1888. The fob refers to an ornament attached to a pocket-watch chain.

  2. I opted out of this feature with my car because you need to register an account to set it up. You then agree that all personal information goes to them, including driving characteristics, how fast you drive, even gps location of where you go. They then can sell that info, and I’m not sure it’s anonymous. All of this just to have a phone key? No thanks.

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