Digital car keys for Apple and Google

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Screenshot: Apple – Apple announced today during its WWDC keynote expanded support for digital car keys in iOS 15. In addition to the recent announcements by Google Android at its own developer conference, it’s clear that the big transition to digital car keys will begin later this autumn.

While Apple’s support of digital automotive keys was first announced last year, today it expanded its efforts with new updates to Wallet via IOS 15 to enable iPhones to connect via USB to neighboring automobiles. The support for UWB reflects Google’s similar announcement that it supported digital car keys via UWB or Nfc during Google I/O, depending on the specific car model in Android 12.

The two primary methods for implementing digital car keys, both of which have their advantages and their disadvantage, are currently NFC and UWB. NFC is typically far shorter than UWB, so it is often necessary to go straight to your vehicle or tap your phone at some point in your vehicle to open its door or start the vehicle. Since NFC already includes all but less expensive budget telephones, the way from traditional physical keys to newcomer digital auto keys still remains relatively simple.

UWB has a possible range for more than 100 feet on the reverse side, which allows users to start a car or turn on the heat / AC from within their homes remotely, provided they have a fairly clear view of the car. The downside is that UW B is still relatively new technologies, so that you can only upgrade to a new phone to get support from UWB on a handful of devices now.

Here’s how Google’s digital car key interface is expected to look in Android 12, with Apple’s take visible in the image above.
Image: Google

The Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Ultra are the main devices of Android phones that support UWB. However, Samsung says support for UWB has not been included in the standard S21, to help its price to be reduced. And in future, Google appears to be ready to add Pixel 6 to UWB support. For iPhones, Apple has now started adding UWB support from iPhone 11. While Apple is ahead of us for support for UWB, anyone who uses an iPhone XS or older is unfortunately not lucky enough.

Apart from Tesla, the car manufacturer which is responsible for the digital automotive keys is BMW who already supported the initiative in select BMW models in partnership with Apple, Google and Samsung. Other manufacturers such as Hyundai and Ford have also been working in support of digital car keys.

The arrival of digital car keys makes life much easier. It presents a few problems, however, the most worrying being that the loss of your telephone can become a disaster. Because the increase in digital car keys and smart locks not only leads to losing your main method of calling or messaging, but also means that if you do not have access to your phone, you may not also have access to your home or vehicle.

Some may think twice about digital car keys and although many manufacturers still provide a physical key, it’s interesting to see how quickly the public uses digital car keys when they get more support this autumn.

However, both the tech giants and car-makers seem to be finally willing to bring automobile key into the 21st si., between existing car manufacturers like Tesla and broader support coming soon on iOS 15 and Android 12.