Apple released the first beta of iOS 13.4 today, and according to 9to5Mac’s discovery, the new iOS comes with an unannounced feature that might let you unlock, lock, and start your car with your iPhone or Apple Watch.
The iOS 13.4 beta comes with references to a “CarKey” API, which, according to the documentation, will live in your device’s Wallet app and will allow the users to hold their iPhone or Apple Watch near an NFC-compatible car to use their phone as a key. The key will most probably work like the Express Transit Cards and will not require the use Face ID to verify the CarKey’s interaction after the initial pairing.
9to5Mac also revealed that users would be able to share the digital car key via the wallet to someone else’s Apple device; this can be a family member or a trusted friend.
The technology is not new, though. Some carmakers already let you use your phone as a digital car key through their apps. However, they have their limitations. For example, Hyundai has a digital key app only for Android that works with the 2020 Sonata.
Before getting too excited about the feature, you need to know that your car may need to have specific features to make use of this technology. For example, Volvo’s On Call app requires a vehicle with a Volvo on Call Telematics Unit. This feature will only work with NFC-compatible cars; hence, a number of older models are already out of the question.
Apple has not made any official announcement regarding the feature, and this is only the first beta of iOS 13.4. Hence, it is unclear when the final version of the Apple car key will come out and what will be included when it does.