Apple Watch and iPhone users will soon be able to use their devices to unlock and start their cars.
The tech giant released a new test version of its operating system last week which includes references to a CarKey feature.
According to 9to5Mac, the beta version of iOS 13.4 includes mentions of a CarKey API which will enable the iPhone or Apple Watch to lock and unlock a car as well as start its engine.
The CarKey system appears to be set up through Apple’s Wallet app and work in the same way that Apple Pay currently allows contactless payment, using near-field communication (NFC).
Drivers would not need a password or other ID but could simply hold their phone or watch close to an NFC-enabled car to unlock it and even start the engine. They are expected to need a related app from the car maker installed in order for it to work.
9to5Mac also reports that drivers will be able to share the CarKey with other people, giving friends or family members access remotely simply by sharing the permission via the Wallet app.
A handful of other manufacturers offer their own versions of the system for smartphones. Volvo and Tesla both have Bluetooth-based systems that allow certain models to be locked, unlocked and started without a physical key present.
BMW also has a digital key app that works with its newest models. Ironically, it is only available on Android, despite BMW’s insistence that it will only include Apple CarPlay in its infotainment system.
Volvo was the first car maker to launch a digital key (Photo: Volvo)
Like the Apple system, these manufacturers’ apps allow a driver to share the permissions with others via their phone.
9to5Mac says that Apple is already working with some car makers to implement the CarKey system but doesn’t reveal which brands.
Keyless entry and start is an increasingly common feature on modern cars. While it is more convenient it has also been blamed for a rapid rise in car thefts over recent years. Criminals using readily available equipment are able to intercept the signal from a keyless fob and use it to remotely start cars.