BMW might be the first to use Apple's CarKey feature

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What you need to know

  • Code found in iOS 14 has detailed a new CarKey feature.
  • That feature would allow iPhones and Apple Watches to unlock cars.
  • It now appears that BMW might already be on board.

The folks at 9to5Mac have been spelunking their way through iOS 14 code that they've been able to procure for a couple of weeks now, with a new CarKey feature one of the most interesting revelations. And now it's reporting that BMW appears to be on board for CarKey already.

CarKey is a feature that would allow iPhone and Apple Watch users to unlock their car without needing actual keys. It's likely to function in a similar way to how keyless entry already works on some cars, but without the need to have keys nearby. An Apple device would simply replace them.

When 9to5Mac found evidence that BMW is working with Apple, it reached out to the luxury car company. The response? Cryptic.

Please understand that at this point we cannot confirm your request nor give you further details. We would like to refer you to our press release.

The press release mentioned dates back to December when BMW announced it was working on a new method of accessing vehicles.

The BMW Group took a leading role in the seamless integration of smart devices and the customers' digital ecosystem in the early stages. Providing customers with simple, connected and "keyless" access to their vehicles has been a key area of innovation. Today, it is already possible to lock and unlock the vehicle, start the engine and share the key with others using the BMW Digital Key as part of BMW Connected on the smartphone. But this is only the first step in a global technological transformation being shaped and led by the BMW Group.

Things get more interesting, too. The press release mentions the Car Connectivity Consortium, which is the outfit working on a standard for a new Digital Key feature that will be used by car brands. The next big version of Digital Key, version 3.0, will make use of Ultra-Wideband (UWB). And what did Apple add to iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro?

Ultra-Wide band technology.

At this point, there are too many breadcrumbs to not lead anywhere. With BMW seemingly all lined up, it's expected more companies will also come online. And it's looking increasingly likely that Apple Watch Series 6 will get UWB, too.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.