Apple's Upcoming 'CarKey' Feature Will Let You Send Digital Keys Using Messages App

As discovered in the first beta of iOS 13.4, Apple is working on a new "CarKey" feature that will allow an iPhone or an Apple Watch to unlock, lock, and start NFC-compatible vehicles.

bmw digital key
CarKey "keys" live in the Wallet app and as we found in the first beta, can be shared with other people so you can allow others temporary access to your car. In the second beta of iOS 13.4, there's updated wording concerning sharing, which makes it clear that digital car keys will be able to be sent to people using the Messages app.

CarKey keys will be able to be shared with people in individual conversations but not in group conversations. From iOS 13.4 beta 2:

CarKey is not available in group conversations. You can send CarKey in conversations with an individual.

Sharing a CarKey with someone will allow that person to use their ‌iPhone‌ or Apple Watch to access a compatible car by holding the device near an NFC reader located inside of the vehicle. Keys can be permanent (for a spouse) or temporary (for a valet driver or mechanic).

People who receive a digital key over the Messages app will see text letting them know how it works.

[Vehicle Owner] invited you to use their [Vehicle Model] with unlock & drive access. This allows you to use your iPhone and Apple Watch to unlock/lock the car, start the engine and drive.

CarKey access, like Apple Pay and Apple Cash, is authenticated biometrically using Face ID or Touch ID to make sure the person holding the ‌iPhone‌ is the person with permission to access a car, though there is an "Express Mode: that would presumably work without the need for authentication.

Apple will be partnering with vehicle manufacturers for CarKey, which indicates that it may be a factory installed option much like CarPlay. CarKey requires a vehicle with NFC, so it is something that vehicle manufacturers will need to implement as ‌CarPlay‌ was.

Apple is a member of the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), which has developed an NFC-based Digital Key 2.0 specification made available at the end of 2019. The new specification establishes a secure connection between mobile devices and vehicles over NFC.

The CCC is also working on a Digital Key 3.0 specification based on Bluetooth Le and Ultra Wideband, enabling passive location-aware keyless access. Apple's ‌iPhone‌ 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max support Ultra Wideband, so this is CarKey functionality we could see in the future.

There is no word yet on when CarKey will be announced by Apple or when it will start rolling out to new vehicles, but a launch could come with the public release of iOS 13.4.

With Apple rumored to be holding an event on March 31, the CarKey announcement could be made at the event as we expect iOS 13.4's release to coincide with the debut of new devices.

Related Forum: iOS 13

Top Rated Comments

calzon65 Avatar
53 months ago
This is a feature I will defiantly try. Get rid of that huge key fob.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
swm Avatar
53 months ago
i love the idea, but i can't neglect the fact that hijacking one's iCloud account gets more and more lucrative for criminals...
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
trizzil Avatar
53 months ago
doing this with my tesla
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jpn Avatar
53 months ago

Uh, don't do that. What about a dead phone?
its not a problem.
similar to the Express Transit card that you can use for transportation, after your battery signals its run out, and other normal phone functions don't work, there is a Power Reserve function that allows the key to still work for up to 5 hours.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
44267547 Avatar
53 months ago

This is a feature I will defiantly try. Get rid of that huge key fob.
Huge key fob? I’m not sure what kind of car you have, but I’m actually impressed with how small these key fobs are today in terms of weight/slimness given all their core functionality.

also, there’s something about the overall weight of a key fob that I like, but it feels substantial, But that’s just me appreciating the little things.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
szw-mapple fan Avatar
53 months ago

This is a feature I will defiantly try. Get rid of that huge key fob.
Eh, I would rather just try it normally. I see no reason to be defiant about this. :p
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Apple car wheel icon feature yellow

Apple Cancels Electric Car Project

Tuesday February 27, 2024 11:05 am PST by
Apple has canceled all plans to release an autonomous, electric vehicle, reports Bloomberg. Apple has been working on an Apple Car for more than a decade and invested millions of dollars into development before deciding it was not a viable project. Apple's Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams today told approximately 2,000 employees working on the Apple Car that the project was canceled,...
iOS 18 Mock iPhone 16 Feature Gray

iOS 18 Rumored to Be Compatible With These iPhone Models

Tuesday February 27, 2024 6:31 am PST by
iOS 18 will be compatible with the iPhone XR, and thereby also the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models with the same A12 Bionic chip, according to a post on X today from a private account with a proven track record of sharing build numbers for upcoming iOS updates. The post was spotted by MacRumors contributor Aaron Perris, and it has since been deleted. However, this was likely because the...
iOS 17

iOS 17.4 Coming Soon With These New Features for Your iPhone

Monday February 26, 2024 6:08 am PST by
In a press release last month, Apple confirmed that iOS 17.4 will be released in March, and the update includes several new features and changes for the iPhone. Key new features in iOS 17.4 include major App Store changes in the EU, Apple Podcasts transcripts, and an iMessage security upgrade. The update also adds new emoji and includes preparations for the launch of next-generation CarPlay...
applearcade

Game Developers Describe 'Smell of Death' Around Apple Arcade

Monday February 26, 2024 7:24 am PST by
Some game developers are dissatisfied with Apple Arcade amid concerns about the subscription service's future, a new report claims. Sources speaking to mobilegamer.biz described a "smell of death" around Apple's games subscription service and noted the difference between the company's investment in TV and music, and its interest in games. "At the very top of the company there needs to be a ...
iPad Air 5

iPadOS 18 Rumored to Drop Support for These iPad Models

Tuesday February 27, 2024 6:55 am PST by
iPadOS 18 will drop support for iPad models equipped with the A10X Fusion chip, according to a post on X today from a private account with a proven track record of sharing build numbers for upcoming iOS and iPadOS updates. This means that iPadOS 18 would not be compatible with the first-generation 10.5-inch iPad Pro or the second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro models released in 2017. It...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

Six Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Thursday February 22, 2024 4:20 am PST by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models concurrently, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different, and already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...