Supposed Apple CarKey screenshots reveal how digital key feature works

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2020
A set of questionable screenshots shared on Twitter this week supposedly show off Apple's so-called "CarKey" feature for iOS, potentially offering a first look at the digital key that will ostensibly let users control vehicle systems with their iPhone and Apple Watch.

CarKey
Alleged screenshots of Apple's CarKey interface. | Source: "DongleBookPro" via Twitter


A trio of screenshots from "DongleBookPro," captured on an iPhone running an unknown version of iOS, apparently demonstrates the feature with a key tied to a BMW i8.

It appears that digital keys are stored in the Wallet app, with enrolled cars listed as browsable cards. Tapping on a car's avatar brings up a screen that displays stored vehicle information, a digital key's issuer, an option to enable Express Mode, sharing settings and an option to remove the key from Wallet.

Much like HomeKit or other smart home locks, users can apparently share their CarKey with another iPhone owner. According to a third screenshot, access can be restricted to specific subsystems like door locks, trunk locks and a car's ignition. Support for other variables may exist. For example, some cars with wireless key fobs integrate safety driving modes that limit a driver's speed and other mechanical settings.

Express Mode, like Wallet's Express Transit feature, automatically enable CarKey without requiring authentication with Face ID, Touch ID or a passcode. In theory, this feature would allow users to simply walk up to their car, unlock and start it without pulling a device from their purse or pants. If the mode works similarly to Express Transit, the digital key might also work when an iPhone's battery is depleted.

Whether the screenshots are legitimate is unclear, as abnormalities suggest the images were manipulated. For example, the definition of Express Mode specifically mentions "Express Cards," while wording and text spacing on the "Set CarKey Access Type" screen is awkward. That said, early iOS software builds are more about functionality and less about polish.

The screenshots jibe with a report this week that, citing code from a leaked version of iOS 14, claimed BMW would be among the first carmakers to utilize CarKey if and when it debuts in a future version of iOS.

Apple's proprietary CarKey technology was initially discovered in an early iOS 13.4 beta in February. The feature failed to debut with the update's release on Tuesday. Beyond the API's existence, not much is known about the initiative. Reports indicate the system leverages NFC hardware on iPhone, and potentially Apple Watch, to communicate with a car's onboard computer to unlock, lock and start a vehicle.

The Cupertino tech giant has been investigating digital car key systems for years and in 2018 filed a patent application describing methods by which an iPhone can securely control a car's subsystems. Another patent, issued in November, detailed a solution that integrates Bluetooth and Ultra Wideband connectivity to determine a device's relative location before exchanging cryptographic keys with a target vehicle.

Apple is also a member of the Car Connectivity Consortium, an automotive industry group focusing on the development and integration of universal digital key technologies. The CCC is currently working toward Digital Key Release 3.0, a system that taps Bluetooth Low Energy and UWB technology to deliver passive, location-aware keyless access to smartphones and other mobile equipment.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,351member
    Could CarKey control HomeLink? 
  • Reply 2 of 22
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,030member
    Truck Access
    Unlock the trunk only

    Looks like a typo when paired with the other options. Seems dubious to me.
    spodgregoriusmgodofbiscuitsSoundJudgmentsdw2001chasmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 22
    digitoldigitol Posts: 241member
    Sure would be great to have a car that auto starts, stops, locks/unlocks on exit/entry without having to touch anything. Even more amazing would be a car that could come pick you up in a parking lot. I guess one could only dream. 
    edited March 2020 jcs2305
  • Reply 4 of 22
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,691member
    digitol said:
    Even more amazing would be a car that could come pick you up in a parking lot. I guess one could only dream. 
    You should probably wake up if you're still dreaming, this feature has been around for four years now.

    https://www.tesla.com/blog/summon-your-tesla-your-phone
    yojimbo007kurai_kagechemengin1watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 22
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,755member
    Seems a bit weird to brand and limit this to cars.  Any reason why this couldn't be a generic AppleKey for any enabled lock?
  • Reply 6 of 22
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,691member
    crowley said:
    Seems a bit weird to brand and limit this to cars.  Any reason why this couldn't be a generic AppleKey for any enabled lock?
    Like this?
    https://appleinsider.com/articles/20/02/13/apples-carkey-api-could-control-your-homekit-smart-lock-in-future
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 22
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,755member
    crowley said:
    Seems a bit weird to brand and limit this to cars.  Any reason why this couldn't be a generic AppleKey for any enabled lock?
    Like this?
    https://appleinsider.com/articles/20/02/13/apples-carkey-api-could-control-your-homekit-smart-lock-in-future
    Yeah, but that article is speculative, whereas the car in "CarKey" has actually been found in Apple code.
  • Reply 8 of 22
    Soli said:
    Truck Access
    Unlock the trunk only

    Looks like a typo when paired with the other options. Seems dubious to me.
    "Teacher? Please explain this discrepancy." It is not like Apple to misspell 'Trunk.'
    edited March 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 22
    Soli said:
    Truck Access
    Unlock the trunk only

    Looks like a typo when paired with the other options. Seems dubious to me.
    "Teacher? Please explain this discrepancy." It is not like Apple to misspell 'Trunk.'
    As @Soli mentioned, it's an obvious typo.  Trucks do not have trunks.  A key defining feature of a truck is an open bed.  

    On topic:
    "Apple is also a member of the Car Connectivity Consortium, an automotive industry group focusing on the development and integration of universal digital key technologies. The CCC is currently working toward Digital Key Release 3.0, a system that taps Bluetooth Low Energy and UWB technology to deliver passive, location-aware keyless access to smartphones and other mobile equipment."

    Another CCC member, Hyundai introduced their version last year on their Sonata.  Hyundai's version was based on Digital Key Release 2.0 so it doesn't have BT LE and UWB.  I think Apple may be waiting for Release 3.0 that has has the two additional features incorporated.  

    Although I understand using the BMW i8 - brand recognition and the shared use of "i" - it's sort of odd in the same sense since the i8 has been discontinued.
    gatorguy
  • Reply 10 of 22
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,754member
    crowley said:
    crowley said:
    Seems a bit weird to brand and limit this to cars.  Any reason why this couldn't be a generic AppleKey for any enabled lock?
    Like this?
    https://appleinsider.com/articles/20/02/13/apples-carkey-api-could-control-your-homekit-smart-lock-in-future
    Yeah, but that article is speculative, whereas the car in "CarKey" has actually been found in Apple code.

    Apple tends to crawl then walk then run with technology like this.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 22
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,175member
    Soli said:
    Truck Access
    Unlock the trunk only

    Looks like a typo when paired with the other options. Seems dubious to me.
    "Teacher? Please explain this discrepancy." It is not like Apple to misspell 'Trunk.'
    As @Soli mentioned, it's an obvious typo.  Trucks do not have trunks.  A key defining feature of a truck is an open bed.  

    On topic:
    "Apple is also a member of the Car Connectivity Consortium, an automotive industry group focusing on the development and integration of universal digital key technologies. The CCC is currently working toward Digital Key Release 3.0, a system that taps Bluetooth Low Energy and UWB technology to deliver passive, location-aware keyless access to smartphones and other mobile equipment."

    Another CCC member, Hyundai introduced their version last year on their Sonata.  Hyundai's version was based on Digital Key Release 2.0 so it doesn't have BT LE and UWB.  I think Apple may be waiting for Release 3.0 that has has the two additional features incorporated.  

    Although I understand using the BMW i8 - brand recognition and the shared use of "i" - it's sort of odd in the same sense since the i8 has been discontinued.
    Thanks for the helpful mention @CloudTalkin ;
    Full member list here and it includes just about every manufacturer and autonomous car platform.
    https://carconnectivity.org/members/
  • Reply 12 of 22
    ransonranson Posts: 29member
    According to the screen shots, "Truck Access" unlocks the "trunk" only. Truck vs Trunk. Usually when I see typographical errors like that, I assume it's a fake.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 22
    mld53amld53a Posts: 19member
    I note that most cars don’t have NFC door locks but numerous cars have Onstar. On my Buick, for example, I have a Buick app which allows me to unlock my car and even remote start my car. And that App also runs on my Apple Watch. This capability, to my understanding, does not require an active an OnStar subscription to work but does use OnStar’s capability. 

    I’m sure that Apple could use this mechanism to allow this capability on cars without NFC locks. 
  • Reply 14 of 22
    kent909kent909 Posts: 730member
    Steal your phone, steal your car. :)
  • Reply 15 of 22
    digitol said:
    Sure would be great to have a car that auto starts, stops, locks/unlocks on exit/entry without having to touch anything. Even more amazing would be a car that could come pick you up in a parking lot. I guess one could only dream. 
    Then why in a parking lot?
  • Reply 16 of 22
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,030member
    Soli said:
    Truck Access
    Unlock the trunk only

    Looks like a typo when paired with the other options. Seems dubious to me.
    "Teacher? Please explain this discrepancy." It is not like Apple to misspell 'Trunk.'
    As @Soli mentioned, it's an obvious typo.  Trucks do not have trunks.  A key defining feature of a truck is an open bed.  

    On topic:
    "Apple is also a member of the Car Connectivity Consortium, an automotive industry group focusing on the development and integration of universal digital key technologies. The CCC is currently working toward Digital Key Release 3.0, a system that taps Bluetooth Low Energy and UWB technology to deliver passive, location-aware keyless access to smartphones and other mobile equipment."

    Another CCC member, Hyundai introduced their version last year on their Sonata.  Hyundai's version was based on Digital Key Release 2.0 so it doesn't have BT LE and UWB.  I think Apple may be waiting for Release 3.0 that has has the two additional features incorporated.  

    Although I understand using the BMW i8 - brand recognition and the shared use of "i" - it's sort of odd in the same sense since the i8 has been discontinued.
    Well, my truck does have a trunk. It's an amazing feature for a pickup truck. The bed isn't as deep as you typical pickup truck, but I also don't need it to be. Having a lockable trunk (which is also designed to double as an ice chest with a plug hole at the bottom for tailgating and whatnot) is infinitely more useful to me. It also allows access to the spare tire without having to go under the truck. I haven't had to change a tire in decades, but it's nice to know I won't have to lay on the gravel to get to it. It's also the only unibody truck on the market, or what Tesla calls an exoskeleton for their upcoming CyberTruck.


    But, yeah, in general trucks don't have trunks, but even if they did, the problems with that screenshot is that it's paid with the BMW i8 (a car), it's a misspelled title which a correctly spelled description for trunk access, and only makes sense as Trunk Access against the other two options of access the inside of the car, and access the inside of the car and drive it.
    edited March 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 22
    Soli said:
    Soli said:
    Truck Access
    Unlock the trunk only

    Looks like a typo when paired with the other options. Seems dubious to me.
    "Teacher? Please explain this discrepancy." It is not like Apple to misspell 'Trunk.'
    As @Soli mentioned, it's an obvious typo.  Trucks do not have trunks.  A key defining feature of a truck is an open bed.  

    On topic:
    "Apple is also a member of the Car Connectivity Consortium, an automotive industry group focusing on the development and integration of universal digital key technologies. The CCC is currently working toward Digital Key Release 3.0, a system that taps Bluetooth Low Energy and UWB technology to deliver passive, location-aware keyless access to smartphones and other mobile equipment."

    Another CCC member, Hyundai introduced their version last year on their Sonata.  Hyundai's version was based on Digital Key Release 2.0 so it doesn't have BT LE and UWB.  I think Apple may be waiting for Release 3.0 that has has the two additional features incorporated.  

    Although I understand using the BMW i8 - brand recognition and the shared use of "i" - it's sort of odd in the same sense since the i8 has been discontinued.
    Well, my truck does have a trunk. It's an amazing feature for a pickup truck. The bed isn't as deep as you typical pickup truck, but I also don't need it to be. Having a lockable trunk (which is also designed to double as an ice chest with a plug hole at the bottom for tailgating and whatnot) is infinitely more useful to me. It also allows access to the spare tire without having to go under the truck. I haven't had to change a tire in decades, but it's nice to know I won't have to lay on the gravel to get to it. It's also the only unibody truck on the market, or what Tesla calls an exoskeleton for their upcoming CyberTruck.


    But, yeah, in general trucks don't have trunks, but even if they did, the problems with that screenshot is that it's paid with the BMW i8 (a car), it's a misspelled title which a correctly spelled description for trunk access, and only makes sense as Trunk Access against the other two options of access the inside of the car, and access the inside of the car and drive it. 
    More specifically, that's not even an i8 per se.  Someone obviously did a google image search for i8 and chose the image because it looked "cooler" than the other images.  What they didn't realize is they chose an image of an i8 concept car from 2011, not an image of an actual i8, which went into production in 2014,  So like you, I'm pretty sure it's a fake.  BMW is a board member of the CCC so it's unlikely they'd approve the use of an old concept image as the headliner of the new feature.  Not only that, I doubt they'd use a car they're discontinuing and won't even get the feature.  They're basically dropping hybrids and going full EV alongside their bread and butter ICE vehicles. The truck typo in relation to the image was just icing on the cake of fakeness.

     I am aware of the Ridgeline and it's "brother from another mother" Chevy Avalanche and their unique styling.  As you noted, I was speaking generally.   
  • Reply 18 of 22
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 830member
    digitol said:
    Even more amazing would be a car that could come pick you up in a parking lot. I guess one could only dream. 
    You should probably wake up if you're still dreaming, this feature has been around for four years now.

    https://www.tesla.com/blog/summon-your-tesla-your-phone
    Four years - as in released last summer? Have you been self isolating so thoroughly you think it's 2023? Yikes!  ;)

    Perhaps digitol is talking about fully autonomous cars like summoning a taxi/shared ride situation.
    Soli
  • Reply 19 of 22
    hodarhodar Posts: 337member

    I will plead ignorance here.

    My 2011 Lexus has keyless entry, just has a dongle I carry in my pocket.  It's proximity based, in that if I am a few feet within my car, I can unlock my car.  The key knows when it's inside the car, or outside the car - I am assuming Bluetooth, but this is an assumption.  This is NOT a new technology, as it's been available as a Keyless option from many car brands for years.

    Is Bluetooth as espoused by Apple something "new" that is only coming around to cars now, or is this support for existing cars as well?

  • Reply 20 of 22
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,030member
    hodar said:

    I will plead ignorance here.

    My 2011 Lexus has keyless entry, just has a dongle I carry in my pocket.  It's proximity based, in that if I am a few feet within my car, I can unlock my car.  The key knows when it's inside the car, or outside the car - I am assuming Bluetooth, but this is an assumption.  This is NOT a new technology, as it's been available as a Keyless option from many car brands for years.

    Is Bluetooth as espoused by Apple something "new" that is only coming around to cars now, or is this support for existing cars as well?

    This is not a key fob. This is not BT. Remote keyless systems utilizing a handheld transmitter first appeared long before your Lexus, starting with the Renault in 1982, if I recall correctly. Your Lexus has a considerably more advanced and smarter adaptation of that where it's not a button you need to push, but short wave radio waves that knows the location of the key fob at all times in relation to the inside and outside of the car.

    This is "UWB technology to deliver passive, location-aware keyless access to smartphones and other mobile equipment." This is very much new tech for a smartphone and the future of our devices connecting with our automobiles. We could even see more automobiles following Tesla by not including and charging for key fobs after UWB is active in your iPhone and Watch.

    I can't wait for my Watch to be able to unlock and start my vehicle. Like with NFC, I hope that it will also be usable when the Watch (or iPhone) is dead.
    edited March 2020 pscooter63watto_cobra
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