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The code iOS 14 reveals that Apple is working with BMW on the function “CarKey”

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Published on Mar 24, 2020

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The code iOS 14 reveals that Apple is working with BMW on the function “CarKey”

9to5Mac, had reported in February that Apple is developing a new feature, “CarKey”, which will allow the drivers to replace the keys with their iPhone.

Now, without going into details, the site reports new evidence found in the code of iOS 14, indicating that BMW will be the first automaker to support CarKey when the function will be released.

When he is asked of his involvement in the project, BMW has responded:

Please understand that at this point, we cannot confirm your request or provide you with more details.

The German automaker has pointed out in a press release of December its commitment to a global standard of digital key.

“The BMW Group has spearheaded the creation of a global standard for the access to the vehicles that are digital inside the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC),” reads the release. “The most well-known smartphone manufacturers and automotive manufacturers have already joined the consortium. The specific standards in all areas will also help to include all types of smart devices, including phones, watches and other wearable devices.”

Also Apple is part of the CCC.

In June 2018, the group has published information on the specific Digital Key Release 1.0, an NFC solution that enables smart devices authenticated lock, unlock, start the engine and to share the access to a specific car.

The CCC has recently recently updated the standard to version 2.0:

The standard Digital Key, Release 2.0 takes advantage of NFC, a standard for short-range wireless connectivity for contactless communication between devices like smartphones or tablets. CCC uses the industry-standard existing as NFC as much as possible, to ensure a high level of interoperability between the vehicles and a wide range of industrial devices.

The CCC is currently working on the Digital Key Release 3.0, which will use the Bluetooth Low Energy technology (BLE) and Ultra-Wideband (UWB), to provide a passive access without key to the position. The latest models of iPhone, support both BLE that the UWB, the latter limited to the precise file-sharing AirDrop.

Relevant to Apple, the version 3.0 will leverage the UWB, or chip, ultra-wideband, introduced on the iPhone with iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. Apple is currently using the chip UWB only to a small improvement of AirDrop.

In the future, this new chip will be also exploited in other devices, including the AirTag.

BMW describes how UWB will be useful for the digital key:

In the near future, the specifications of the digital key will be upgraded from version 3.0 is based on ultra-wideband (UWB). This will offer the maximum anti-theft protection and will allow a precise localization between the device and the vehicle. Accordingly, the mobile phone must not be kept directly on the door handle to unlock the car, but can be conveniently left in your pocket.

The collaboration of Apple with a BMW Digital Key is not a surprise. BMW was the first automaker to adopt the technology CarPlay.

The standard digital key CCC also works with the tablet, even if it is not clear if the iPad will work with the function CarKey Apple. To date, the company has included the chip UWB only in the iPhone, although the code beta iOS 13.4 make clear reference to the support of Apple Watch.

This may suggest that CarKey will only take NFC chip found in different generations of the iPhone, although it is possible that the next Apple Watch will be equipped with the chip UWB.

We expect that CarKey functions to lock, unlock and start the car using the iPhone instead of a physical key. The digital keys will be managed in the app Wallet and Apple will work with an option for authentication without passcode or Face ID for a faster experience. These digital keys are also shared with the Messaging app.

What do you think of this new feature? Let us know in the comments below!

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