Digital Car Key and Ultra Wideband Groups Team Up for Future Apple Car Keys Improvements

The way vehicles take advantage of new connectivity standards could be improving in the near future, leading to updates on how smartphones like the iPhone control cars.

bmw car key photo
This month, the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) and the FiRa Consortium that oversees the development of the Ultra-wideband (UWB) standard, announced a partnership for the future development of UWB features used for the CCC Digital Key function.

Apple is a member of both the CCC and FiRa. The CCC's Digital Key specification has been adopted by Apple for its Car Keys feature that allows the ‌iPhone‌ and the Apple Watch to unlock compatible vehicles over NFC. Select BMW, Kia, Hyundai, Mercedes, and Genesis vehicles work with Car Keys, but Apple undoubtedly wants to expand adoption.

The CCC and FiRa Consortiums will work together to "develop and maintain" the UWB technology specifications used for the Digital Key standard that serves as the basis for ‌Car Keys‌ on Apple devices. Apple engineer Jinjing Jiang will oversee the joint effort.

The partnership is expected to encourage broader adoption of UWB technology use in vehicles. As of now, UWB is used for the Digital Key standard to relay how close a user is to their vehicle, allowing a smartphone or wearable to be used for vehicle access or to start the car when at the appropriate range.

Apple uses UWB for the ‌iPhone‌, Apple Watch, and AirTag. UWB enables more precise location awareness and it powers features like Precision Finding for the ‌AirTag‌.

Along with Apple, CCC members include most vehicle manufacturers like Ford, BMW, GM, Honda, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and more, while FiRa members include Apple, Google, Qualcomm, Cisco, Samsung, NXP, and more.

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Top Rated Comments

FSMBP Avatar
27 weeks ago
I can't wait for this to be standard....The dream of leaving the house with just my Apple Watch to unlock my car (obviously, having a backup keycard like Tesla's).

I just hate keys!!!
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jz0309 Avatar
27 weeks ago
and when I look at the photo in the article, holding an iPhone near the door handle - I prefer that bulky key fob in my pocket
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nutmac Avatar
27 weeks ago
I wish Tesla was more opened to these standards.

Outside NACS, just about everything they do is proprietary. That attitude comes at the expense of inconveniencing customers.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mr_Ed Avatar
27 weeks ago

and when I look at the photo in the article, holding an iPhone near the door handle - I prefer that bulky key fob in my pocket
Agree. I enabled phone access on my car more as a backup than anything else. My current fob is lighter than on my last car so that’s what I use. Put my hand in the door handle and it unlocks. Pretty simple.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Darth Tulhu Avatar
27 weeks ago
I'm of the mind that this is all well and good as long as I still have keys to my car. I don't like the idea of not being able to get in my vehicle if my battery dies or I lose my phone.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
subjonas Avatar
27 weeks ago

Actually no; I have it on my BMW and you need to very close to the handle. NFC type distance.
Hmm but that might be different from this UWB standard maybe

Edit- what technology are these proximity sensing key fobs using, anyone know?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)