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Apple’s new CarKey feature will unlock vehicles via NFC

Apple Watch and iPhone owners with an NFC-compatible vehicle will soon be able to unlock, lock and start it with a new ‘CarKey’ feature, which is set to go live next month.

CarKey was spotted in the Wallet app following the rollout of the iOS 13.4 beta, and it allows people to access handy functions for vehicles without the need for physical keys and share them with other people via the Messages app.

CarKey is similar to Apple Pay in that it uses Touch ID or Face ID as a security layer and to ensure that the person trying to access the car has the permission to do so.

The second beta for iOS 13.4 has also added a new sharing feature that allows a person to share a CarKey, though this can only be done in individual conversations and not in a group.



When a CarKey is shared, the person receiving the digital key will get a rundown of how the process works.

The message says: “[Vehicle Owner] invited you to use their [Vehicle Model] with unlock & drive access. This allows you to use your ‌iPhone‌ and ‌Apple Watch‌ to unlock/lock the car, start the engine and drive.”

Apple will be teaming up with vehicle manufacturers to support the new feature in a similar way that it did for CarPlay, a service that lets users make calls and send and receive messages via a vehicle’s built-in display.

The new CarKey feature follows on from the development of the NFC-based Digital Key 2.0 specification, which launched in late 2019.

There is no news about when CarKey will be officially announced, but reports suggest that it could be a part of the rumoured private event to be held on 31st March for the launch of new devices, including the hotly anticipated iPhone SE successor.

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