Your iPhone might soon unlock your car right from your pocket

Car keys in Wallet: Everything you need to know
Car keys in Wallet: Everything you need to know (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • You could soon be able to unlock your car using your iPhone, even while it's in your pocket.
  • The Car Connectivity Consortium has announced a new car key spec that includes support for ultra wideband tech.

Apple's iPhone 12 line of phones and newer could soon be capable of unlocking your car, even while they're still in your pocket. That's after the Car Connectivity Consortium announced a new Digital Key Release 3.0 specification that includes support for ultra wideband and Bluetooth Low Energy.

Currently, iPhones and Apple Watches can unlock cars but they need to be placed near the door for it to work. With the new specification, an iPhone — and future Apple Watch — would simply need to be close enough to pick up a UWB signal.

The latest Release addresses security and usability by authenticating the Digital Key between a vehicle and the mobile device over Bluetooth Low Energy. Mobile devices create and store the Digital Keys in a Secure Element that provides the highest level of protection against hardware or software-based attacks. UWB offers secure and accurate distance measurement allowing cars to locate authenticated mobile devices so that Release 3.0 not only prevents attacks but also adds a new level of convenience when entering, interacting and starting the car.

The new specification is now available to members of the consortium — and yes, that includes Apple.

Unfortunately, it's likely you'll also need to buy a new car for all of this to work, so that's something to keep in mind. Still, the fact the technology exists is a good thing for everyone, even if we can't all make use of it immediately.

Once you do have a car that supports UWB, you'll need an iPhone 12 or newer for this all to work. Check out our collection of the best iPhone deals to bag yourself a bargain today.

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.