Imagine being able to control the locking system of your car through a tap of your wristwatch. Hard to believe? Not anymore, because Apple has recently released the CarKey feature which will allow you to lock, unlock and start your car through your Apple Watch and iPhone. At present, this technology works on the beta version of iOS-13.4 and watchOS 6.2.8.
For car and technology lovers this comes as a delightful surprise. The company has just updated the watch operating system platform to watchOS 6.2.8 which basically allows one to use the Apple watch as a digital car key. One just has to go near the car and tap the watch, and the door gets unlocked. As simple as that. In case your Apple Watch is not updated with the latest OS, then you can do so by going to Settings, and then navigating to ‘General’ followed by selecting the ‘Software Update’ option.
This smart innovation runs on a feature called CarKey to enable Apple Watch perform the desired actions. What needs to be remembered is that this will work only for vehicles that are NFC compatible. This will enable one to hold the device close to the car and use the same as a key. At present, this feature can only be supported by the 2021 BMW 5 series vehicle and the functionality is available only for Apple Watch Series 5.
Here’s how the technology works. One needs to pair the device with a car that has field communication. The pairing can be done using Apple Wallet, which is readily available in iPhone or Apple Watch. Also, it is important to have the app of the particular vehicle manufacturer to initiate the set up. For the pairing to happen, just place the device on the NFC reader in the vehicle. The CarKey will automatically become available in Wallet App. Once the pairing is done, you can lock or unlock and even start and turn off your car. However, do note here that it might take some time for the pairing to happen successfully. Therefore, it is pertinent that the device is not removed from the reader. By chance if the pairing fails to happen, then the CarKey feature will have to be added to the Wallet App by using a PIN code. One of the key advantages of the digital car key is that it can be shared with a trusted family member or a friend.
While this feature does sound cool, it comes with its own set of challenges and areas of concern. For one, security is a major issue. If by chance you lose your Apple Watch or iPhone and the thief is able to locate your vehicle and activate the Wallet App, then there is a high probability of the car being stolen. That is why having the car manufacturers app also is crucial. Since the presence of this app is needed to be able to use the CarKey feature, anyone trying to access the car from some other device will be unable to do so. The digital car key is a costly thing and extreme caution should be exercised when sharing it with another person, be it family or friends.
The use of Apple Watch as a digital car key is in line with Apple’s objectives of enhancing the Apple Wallet beyond just storing digital versions of debit and credit cards. What, however, needs to be seen is eventually for which cars will the CarKey work, and by when will this actually get implemented. Till such time, we can only hope that it is not very far.