Apple digital car key getting big upgrade later this year

Bmw Key
Bmw Key (Image credit: BMW)

What you need to know

  • A new version of the Car Connectivity Consortium's Digital Key is on the way.
  • It will allow companies like Apple to use UWB and Bluetooth Low Energy on devices to unlock cars.
  • Apple's digital car key was unveiled last year.

A new report from the Car Connectivity Consortium has confirmed support is coming for Bluetooth Low Energy and Ultra-Wideband options later this year, unlocking the feature for Apple's digital car keys.

In a press release today the CCC stated:

The Car Connectivity Consortium® (CCC) today announced that its Digital Key Release 3.0 specification – which adds Bluetooth Low Energy and Ultra Wideband (UWB) wireless connectivity technologies to enable compatible mobile devices with passive keyless access and engine start – is planned for completion by the middle of 2021 The Digital Key Release 3.0 specification will complement the Release 2.0 specification, which leverages Near Field Communication (NFC) technology for contactless communication between smartphones and vehicles. Release 3.0 through implementation of UWB connectivity adds hands-free, location-aware keyless access and location-aware features for an improved user-friendly experience. It maintains support for NFC technology as a mandatory back-up solution.

Apple announced its own support for digital car keys at WWDC 2020, using NFC technology to unlock a car door. The first car support was the BMW 5 Series.

The upcoming changes mean that later this year will allow Apple to use Bluetooth Low Energy and Ultra-Wideband to unlock a car as well as NFC. BMW announced a digital key that would support UWB previously stating that UWB would not only be more secure but that it would more convenient as it doesn't even require a driver to take their phone out of their pocket or bag because of the increased range offered over NFC.

The release frame for the change is "by the middle of 2021".

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9