Apple’s Car Key for the iPhone and Apple Watch provides easy unlocking and starting of compatible cars, as well as sharing the key with family.
Users can use an iPhone or an Apple Watch to lock, unlock and even start a car using Apple’s Car Key feature. This innovative idea means getting locked out and stuck somewhere waiting for help will no longer be a concern. While this easy-to-use and largely automatic feature requires a compatible iPhone, Apple Watch and vehicle to work, many Apple devices are supported, and more automakers are joining in.
Apple announced its digital car keys in June 2020 at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, and BMW began supporting this option by the end of the year. With digital home locks also available, it seemed like the need to carry physical keys was nearing an end. Unfortunately, other manufacturers were slow to sign on, and until 2022, BMW was the only automaker with cars compatible with Apple’s advanced iPhone and Apple Watch digital key capability.
Apple’s Car Key feature allows locking, unlocking and starting a vehicle with nothing more than an iPhone or an Apple Watch, freeing a driver from the hassle of carrying and keeping track of physical keys. In some cases, its usage is automatic, with the car detecting the user’s approach and unlocking automatically. Likewise, the vehicle will lock when the user walks away. If the iPhone or Apple Watch being used contains a U1 chip, the range and reliability of this feature is enhanced by ultra-wideband technology, allowing it to work without even removing the iPhone from the pocket. Other vehicles might require the iPhone or Apple Watch to be held near the door handle to unlock the car, relying on its NFC technology. To start a vehicle, the user should place their iPhone in the car’s reader or hold their Apple Watch nearby and then press the vehicle’s start button. Remote locking, unlocking, and even starting are possible with some vehicle models. After any remote operation is triggered, a notification will be sent to the Apple ID as a security measure.
How To Set Up Apple Car Key
Apple’s Car Key must be added to the iPhone’s Apple Wallet before use, after which it will also be available on the paired Apple Watch. The digital key option could appear in the car manufacturer’s app, an email or a text message. The instructions may also appear on the car’s display. The process varies but is generally quick and easy, somewhat like adding a card to Apple Pay. From the Wallet app, tapping the key will reveal more options, such as remote locking, unlocking and starting if supported by the car.
Tapping the ellipsis ‘…’ will reveal more options. Express Mode is the default setting, allowing an iPhone or Apple Watch to be used as a digital key without unlocking the Apple device first. However, if the iPhone is accessible to someone who isn’t allowed to drive, it might be best to switch Express Mode off. Apple’s Car Key can also be used by more than one iPhone owner with the ‘Share’ option. It’s also possible to ‘Revoke’ this shared key later. Finally, if retiring the car or selling it, the owner can ‘Delete’ a key from this menu. These additional options make using digital car keys with an iPhone or Apple Watch even more versatile and something to take advantage of when driving a compatible vehicle.
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