You might soon be able to unlock your car with your iPhone

CarPlay (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • A new feature called 'CarKey' has been discovered in the iOS 13.4 beta.
  • The feature allows users to lock, unlock, and start their car with iPhone or Apple Watch.
  • Users can even share their key with others.

Today Apple released the first beta version of iOS 13.4 for developers. In addition to some of the performance improvements and bug fixes that are expected, a new feature has been discovered that might take Apple's experience with the car to another level.

Reported by 9to5Mac, the iOS 13.4 beta contains references to a 'CarKey' API. This feature would apparently allow users to lock, unlock, and even start their vehicle with an iPhone or Apple Watch. According to the system files, the feature will work with any car that supports NFC, and users would simply hold their iPhone or Apple Watch near the car in order to unlock it.

You won't even have to authenticate with Face ID, Touch ID, or your passcode, as long as you have "Express Mode" enabled. This is similar to Apple's "Express Transit Mode" which allows users to pay at contactless subway terminals without having to authenticate their iPhone or Apple Watch. If you did want to authenticate every time, however, it seems that Apple is allows users to turn "Express Mode" off in the Wallet app.

"To use CarKey, hold iPhone or Apple Watch to reader. It will work automatically, without requiring Face ID. You can change express mode settings in Wallet."

To take things even further, it seems that Apple is going to allow users to share their 'CarKey' with other people. You'll be able to share your key with friends, family members, and whomever else you trust to have access to your car.

"%@ invited you to use their %@ with unlock access. This allows you to use your iPhone and Apple Watch to unlock/lock the car."

9to5Mac reports that Apple is already working with multiple car manufacturers to bring CarKey to compatible vehicles, but the feature will most likely not be available until iOS 13.4 becomes public. After that, it'll be up to car manufacturers to make their cars compatible with the iPhone and Apple Watch as a digital key.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.