In the continually evolving landscape of digital technology, drivers now have the opportunity to replace their conventional car keys with Apple’s Car Key feature. This innovative feature transforms your iPhone or Apple Watch into a digital key, capable of locking, unlocking, and even starting compatible vehicles. Aside from these basic functionalities, some car models also offer passive entry, proximity detection, and remote access.
Apple’s Car Key feature lives in the Wallet app on both iPhone and Apple Watch, and can be easily shared with other iPhone users as required. Incredibly, the Car Key remains functional even when the iPhone loses charge, a testament to Apple’s customer-centric innovation.
BMW has been leading the charge in the integration of Apple’s Car Key, offering support for this feature in multiple 2021 model year cars. Other prominent car manufacturers like Kia, Hyundai, Genesis, and BYD have also stepped up, bringing this cutting-edge technology to their customers. Recently, Lotus, the British sports car brand, has also shown promising indications of adopting the Car Key feature. Mercedes-Benz joined the tech-forward move too, making headlines with its announcement of Car Key integration in its E-Class lineup.
Mercedes‘ E-Class owners will be able to lock and start their cars by simply carrying their compatible iPhone or Apple Watch. The key can be shared digitally with family members or friends, allowing the primary Mercedes me account holder to control access to the vehicle and driving permissions. The system can recognize multiple users at once and the Digital Vehicle Key can be shared with up to 16 people via various digital platforms like AirDrop®, iMessage®, or other messaging services.
Once received, the recipient can add it to their Apple Wallet, ready for use. Interestingly, the Digital Vehicle Key requires a network connection only for the initial setup and sharing, and can then function without mobile reception, including in areas like underground garages. To ensure secure communication, the system leverages Bluetooth and ultra-wideband technology (UWB), a digital radio technology known for its high security in close-range applications.