In 2020 at WWDC, Apple announced its CarKey feature. With that, drivers can unlock their cars with the U1 chip on selected iPhones and Apple Watches. Unfortunately, this function had a very slow rollout as only selected BMW models have it. Now, a new report indicates this is about to change.

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman in his Power On newsletter, Apple’s CarKey feature is set for its first expansion beyond BMW. Gurman said he’s been told that models from Hyundai and its Genesis line “will roll out by the summer.”

Remember CarKey, the Apple feature announced a year and a half ago that lets you unlock and start your car from your iPhone’s Wallet app? I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re unfamiliar with it, given that Apple hasn’t discussed the feature in a while and it only works on select BMW models. I’m told that’s going to change soon. In line with code findings several months ago in iOS 15, I’m hearing that the next cars to get support for the feature will be models from Hyundai and its Genesis line. I’m told the functionality will roll out by the summer.

Gurman points out that this CarKey partnership is “a bit of a twist considering Apple and Hyundai’s public tussle over the Apple car’s production about a year ago.”

Early last year, a burst of reporting suggested a deal between Hyundai and Apple for Apple Car production was imminent. But after a month, Bloomberg reported that Hyundai and its subsidiary Kia Motors said that they aren’t in discussions with Apple about a self-driving car.

BMW CarKey

In the filings, Hyundai and Kia Motors acknowledged that they “have been talking with multiple companies about autonomous electric car development.” At the time, Bloomberg suggested that these reports about the partnership  “infuriated Apple, which keeps development projects secret for years and controls relationships with suppliers with ruthless efficiency.”

How does Apple’s CarKey work?

With CarKey, drivers can replace physical keys with their iPhones. As Apple demonstrated during the WWDC 2020 keynote, you can simply hold your iPhone close to the car’s door handle to unlock it using NFC technology.

Once you’re inside it, put your iPhone in the NFC reader or wireless charger to start the car. If you have an iPhone 11 or later, you don’t even have to take your iPhone out of your pocket to unlock the doors or start the car thanks to the U1 chip.

Car Key doesn’t require authentication by default, so it can work with just a tap. Apple ensures the process is secure and based on a unique token that is shared between your iPhone and your car. iOS uses your location and Apple ID information to prevent fraud.

However, if you’re not comfortable with Express Mode, you can disable it to require Face ID or Touch ID authentication to unlock and start the car. Car keys can also be added to Apple Watch, making it even easier to use this feature.

Even if your iPhone runs out of battery, Car Key still works for up to five additional hours through Power Reserve mode.

You can read more about it here.

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About the Author

José Adorno

Brazilian tech Journalist. Author at 9to5Mac. Previously at tv globo, the main TV broadcaster in Latin America.

Got tips, feedback, or questions? jose@9to5mac.com