The latest version of iOS is hiding a secret.
It's a brave new world, one in which our cars get plugged into the wall and our smartphones can unlock our cars - or at least that's the world many Android users have gotten used to. But until now, only Tesla drivers with compatible iPhones have been able to use the Tesla Phone Key on their Model S, 3 or X. For owners of other cars with phone-as-key compatibility, they've had to do things the old fashioned way. That's changing, however, as beta versions of Apple's iOS 13.4 operating system started rolling out this week with functionality hidden within the code that suggests Apple phones may soon be fully functional as car keys.
Hidden within the beta software, a reference has been found to a 'CarKey' feature that will seemingly allow iOS users to access and operate their cars using just an iPhone, or in the case of some, their Apple Watch. According to 9to5Mac, the functionality will be compatible with cars that have Near Field Communication (NFC) functionality - which is fast becoming a feature on many cars.
The technology will also function automatically, without requiring Face ID to authenticate and unlock the device. Pairing of devices will need to be handled via the Wallet app as well as the manufacturer's app for 'two-phase' authentication. Once connected, the functionality will also allow key sharing with family and friends. Using the Wallet app, the driver can invite others to have access to the vehicle using their Apple devices.
Apple is allegedly working with several manufacturers to implement its CarKey tech, but it's unlikely to be fully functional until iOS 13.4 is released in full. Hopefully the Apple CarKey tech won't be as problematic as Tesla's Phone Key has been in the past, where users were locked out of their cars for several hours. While 'phone as key' technology has been limited to only a few cars like the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 1 until now, it's certainly looking like this technology is the future.