One of the features Apple touted as being included with iOS 15 is expanded support for Car Keys, allowing you to unlock, lock, and start your car without having to take your iPhone out of your pocket. Ahead of iOS 15 launching to the public this fall, the Car Connectivity Consortium has officially published the Digital Key Release 3.0 specification and made it available to members.
Apple is one of the members of the Car Connectivity Consortium. The new Digital Key Release 3.0 specification enables support for Ultra Wideband and Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity. This means that Apple’s Car Key feature can now tap into the the Ultra Wideband U1 chip that’s in devices like the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12.
Here’s how Apple describes this feature:
Unlock, lock, and start your car without having to take your iPhone out of your bag or pocket. Ultra Wideband provides precise spatial awareness, ensuring that you won’t be able to lock your iPhone in your car or start your vehicle when iPhone isn’t inside.
There are also security improvements thanks to the adoption of Bluetooth Low Energy and Ultra Wideband:
The latest Release addresses security and usability by authenticating the Digital Key between a vehicle and the mobile device over Bluetooth Low Energy. Mobile devices create and store the Digital Keys in a Secure Element that provides the highest level of protection against hardware or software-based attacks. UWB offers secure and accurate distance measurement allowing cars to locate authenticated mobile devices so that Release 3.0 not only prevents attacks but also adds a new level of convenience when entering, interacting and starting the car.
The Digital Key Release 3.0 specification also maintains support for NFC to ensure backward compatibility, the CCC explains.
Car Key is supported on BMW cars, including the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, X5, X6, X7, X5M, X6M, and Z4 models manufactured after July 1, 2020. Newer model cars will be able to tap into the UWB features, but we’re still awaiting more details on the specific adoption.
You can learn more about how the current version of Car Key works in our detailed guide right here.
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