For years, the phone manufacturer has been attempting to popularize digital keys, and now it is experimenting with a different approach.
Apple announced three years ago that it would transform your iPhone into a car key, but the technology only worked on certain BMWs until Kia and Genesis adopted it last year. Despite this, Apple has not abandoned CarKey and is now creating a new app to attract automakers into its digital ecosystem.
A testing app has appeared in the iOS App Store, but it’s not searchable. This app is designed to help automakers test their cars’ compatibility with Apple’s near-field communication technology, potentially leading to more widespread adoption of Apple functionality in new car models. By making it easier for automakers to integrate CarKey, Apple may be hoping to increase interest and adoption from more companies.
Although automakers may have the capability to incorporate Apple’s CarKey, it remains to be seen if they will do so. The NFC technology used by CarKey has a limited range of about two inches, requiring drivers to physically touch their phone to the car’s receiver, rather than relying on the convenience of proximity key technology. While the CarKey app can be added to an Apple Watch, it may not be a practical solution for everyone, as it requires the purchase of an expensive device when a traditional car key may suffice.
Apple has been making a concerted effort to convince automakers to adopt CarKey, but there are growing concerns that the ecosystem itself may not be as effective as it could be. In fact, it is increasingly being seen as a solution in search of a problem that is not necessarily superior to other options that are currently available. While CarKey does offer some significant advantages, such as the ability to unlock and start your car with your iPhone or Apple Watch, the limitations of the NFC standard used by CarKey mean that it may not be the most practical solution for all drivers.
One of the main limitations of CarKey is that it requires drivers to tap their phones within two inches of the car’s receiver in order to function. For many drivers, this could be less convenient than simply using a traditional car key, especially if they have to fumble around to find their phone in their pocket or purse. While using an Apple Watch can mitigate this inconvenience to some extent, it may not be enough to justify the expense for drivers who already have a car key. Ultimately, whether or not more automakers will join the CarKey ecosystem will depend on whether the benefits of the technology outweigh its limitations and whether drivers see it as a practical and cost-effective alternative to traditional car keys.