CarKey Privacy Policy Detailed in iOS 13.5.1, Suggesting Launch Could Come Soon

Buried in the iOS 13.5.1 update, there's a privacy policy for the "CarKey" feature that Apple has in the works, suggesting that a launch could perhaps be coming soon. CarKey is designed to allow an iPhone or Apple Watch to be used in lieu of a physical key in certain vehicles with NFC connectivity.

bmw digital key
First noticed by German site iPhone-ticker.de, the CarKey privacy info can be found in the current iOS 13.5.1 release and the iOS 13.6 beta. There's no word yet on when CarKey will be released, but quite a bit of info about the feature has leaked over the course of the last few months as signs of it have shown up in various versions of iOS 13.

There's not a lot of new info about CarKey in the privacy policy, but it does sum up how CarKey works, setup, and the sharing of CarKey keys through Messages. It makes it clear that Apple does not collect or retain information on vehicle usage, though the vehicle manufacturer still may collect vehicle usage information based on their own privacy policies.

Wallet allows you to add and share car keys for certain vehicles. You may add a car key by signing in to your vehicle manufacturer's app or entering a pairing code in Wallet to claim the vehicle as your own and to pair your device with your vehicle. If successful, your device sends Apple a one-time owner redemption token. Apple uses the redemption token, information about your Apple account and your device, and your location at the time of provisioning (if Location Services is enabled) for fraud prevention purposes.

To set up your car key, Apple shares a unique device identifier with your vehicle manufacturer. This device identifier is different for each vehicle manufacturer to help protect your privacy. Your vehicle manufacturer may connect this device identifier with other information it has about you and will process information it has about you according to its privacy policy.

You may share car keys by tapping Invite on the back of your car key pass, selecting the access type that you would like to grant, and sharing the car key pass using iMessage. To help set up and manage car key passes, Apple forwards to the vehicle manufacturer information about with whom a pass is shared and what level of access was granted. Apple also shares a unique device identifier for the pass recipient with the vehicle manufacturer to enable them to manage your pass. For pass recipients, just as with owners, the vehicle manufacturer may connect the device identifier with other information it may have about the recipient and process such information according to its privacy policy.

Apple does not collect or retain information on vehicle usage, such as when you use your car key pass to lock or unlock the vehicle. Your vehicle manufacturer may collect vehicle usage information according to agreements you have with them. We encourage you to review your vehicle manufacturer's privacy policy for more information.

Digital CarKey keys will be stored in the Wallet app alongside credit cards, rewards cards, gift cards, and other items on ‌iPhone‌ and Apple Watch. These keys will let an ‌iPhone‌ or Apple Watch unlock, lock, and start vehicles equipped with NFC.

Vehicle owners will be able to share a digital CarKey with another person, which is useful in valet situations, if a friend needs to borrow a car, and more. CarKey access is authenticated biometrically using Face ID or Touch ID, though there is an "Express Mode" that vehicle owners can take advantage of.

Apple will be partnering with vehicle manufacturers for CarKey, and it may be a factory installed option similar to CarPlay. CarKey requires NFC to function, so it is something that needs to be implemented by car makers.

Screenshots found in iOS 14 have suggested that BMW may be one of the first manufacturers that will support the CarKey feature. CarKey functionality could be released at any time as the NFC-based Digital Key Release specification that powers it was finalized in May and provided to Car Connectivity Consortium members including Apple.

carkey screenshots

CarKey screenshots

Given that CarKey is a major feature and iOS 14 is on the horizon and set to be unveiled next week, CarKey could perhaps be included in the iOS 14 update.

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Top Rated Comments

Neepman Avatar
52 months ago
Getting pretty close to the situation if you drop your phone into the ocean you may as well jump in after it.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Alan Wynn Avatar
52 months ago

Still don't understand the need, at least for some cars - which would probably be the ones to get it. I have a Subaru - I leave the key in my pocket - grab the door handle and it unlocks - leave the car touch the outside of the handle and the car locks - don't need to take key out of pocket to start run the car. So what will this give me - ok the ability to "lend" a car key - which I don't think I have ever done.
You explained the need clearly in your own post. You need to have the key in your pocket. With this, you only need to have your phone or your watch with you. One fewer thing to carry.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CTHarrryH Avatar
52 months ago
Still don't understand the need, at least for some cars - which would probably be the ones to get it. I have a Subaru - I leave the key in my pocket - grab the door handle and it unlocks - leave the car touch the outside of the handle and the car locks - don't need to take key out of pocket to start run the car. So what will this give me - ok the ability to "lend" a car key - which I don't think I have ever done.
Obviously all facts not known yet but having to take phone out and put it close to car is a negative to me.
The cars will have to have function plus if the stuff is right an app designed to work with it. I would think any car that has that will already have functions similar to what I have.
We will see
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Zorn Avatar
52 months ago
Hopefully this is something they can deliver to existing BMW's with Comfort Access and doesn't require an entirely new car.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nutmac Avatar
52 months ago

Tesla is making a comeback with the Model Y. Whatever Apple does in the Auto Industry they better hurry.
Why? Do you only buy 1 car in your lifetime?

If Apple is still working on a car, it shouldn't be rushed.

I really like what Tesla is doing, but I wish they would support CarPlay.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Alan Wynn Avatar
52 months ago
This cannot come soon enough for me. I hope my car supports my Apple Watch soon. It would be great to not have to carry the giant key fob with me. One less thing I need. If only I could get rid of my license and passport, I would be overjoyed.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)