Apple's CarKey getting Ultra Wideband tech, BMW among first adopters later this year

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 14
BMW has announced plans to update its Apple CarKey-compatible Digital Key protocol with a more secure version that relies on Ultra Wideband radio technology, allowing users to replace physical key fobs with a compatible iPhone.

CarKey BMW


Dubbed Digital Key Plus, the new technology enables users to unlock and start their car without taking iPhone out of a bag or pocket. That is an improvement over the existing BMW Digital Key, which requires users to hold iPhone up to a door handle to gain entry and subsequently place the device in a provided Qi-enabled smartphone tray to start the vehicle.

Developed in partnership with Apple, BMW Digital Key Plus integrates with Apple's CarKey API and relies on UWB's security backbone and high precision to thwart breaches like relay attacks that attempt to jam or intercept digital key signals.

BMW expects to roll out the new technology with the iX, an all-electric "Sports Activity Vehicle" slated to hit European dealerships at the end of 2021 and North American showrooms in 2021.

The upcoming BMW implementation appears to be a variant of Digital Key Release 3.0, which taps Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and UWB technology to deliver passive, location-aware keyless access. In its press release, BMW says it has been working with Apple and the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) to establish Digital Key Release 3.0 as a global standard for the automotive industry.

Apple introduced UWB to its product line with the U1 chip in iPhone 11 and subsequently built the silicon into the iPhone 12 and Apple Watch Series 6 series in 2020. Rumors suggest Apple plans to offer the location-aware chip in other product lines including iPad and AirPods, though the rumblings have yet to bear fruit.

In related news, Hyundai is said to be working toward compatibility with Apple's CarKey and could release a digital key built on the API this year, reports Business Korea. Details are scarce, but the system appears to be based on existing technology already in use by BMW, meaning it will not support features afforded by UWB.

Hyundai is also negotiating a partnership to develop and manufacture a so-called "Apple Car." The South Korean automaker last week confirmed it is in early-stage talks with Apple over the project, with reports suggesting the vehicle could be produced at Hyundai's U.S. plants in 2024.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,738member
    I presume this implementation required a hardware change on the vehicles, not just software.
  • Reply 2 of 8
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,250member
    Is the same BMW that wanted to charge an annual fee for CarPlay and now wants to charge monthly fees for your heated seats? What am I missing here? Key fobs have been available for years; Toyota had one for the Prius over 10 years ago that you could leave in your pocket. Tesla lets you use bluetooth on your phone that functions the same way.
  • Reply 3 of 8
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,738member
    MplsP said:
    Is the same BMW that wanted to charge an annual fee for CarPlay and now wants to charge monthly fees for your heated seats? What am I missing here? Key fobs have been available for years; Toyota had one for the Prius over 10 years ago that you could leave in your pocket. Tesla lets you use bluetooth on your phone that functions the same way.
    This tech allows you to use the phone as a key. Of course, comfort access or whatever it is called by each manufacturer has been around for a long time. It is also not an app?

  • Reply 4 of 8
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,901member
    Not having to take your phone out is definitely a plus. 
  • Reply 5 of 8
    This puts a digital key in your Apple Wallet.  We have the older version of this on our 2021 BMW M440i.  The way it currently works is you have to tap your iPhone on the door handle - similar to using Apple Pay - in order to unlock your car, and then place your iPhone in the wireless charging area inside the car to start it.

    This new tech seems to allow you to keep your iPhone in your pocket and the car simply unlocks when you get close to it (rather than having to tap your iPhone on the door handle), and hopefully will allow you to start the car as well while leaving your phone in your pocket.  This is definitely an improvement!

    The positive to either of these setups is that it's one less thing to have to carry with you when you leave the house.  Key fobs with comfort access have certainly been around for a while and are convenient, but not carrying a key fob at all - - much better!!
    edited January 14
  • Reply 6 of 8
    tobiantobian Posts: 116member
    This puts a digital key in your Apple Wallet.  We have the older version of this on our 2021 BMW M440i.  The way it currently works is you have to tap your iPhone on the door handle - similar to using Apple Pay - in order to unlock your car, and then place your iPhone in the wireless charging area inside the car to start it.

    This new tech seems to allow you to keep your iPhone in your pocket and the car simply unlocks when you get close to it (rather than having to tap your iPhone on the door handle), and hopefully will allow you to start the car as well while leaving your phone in your pocket.  This is definitely an improvement!

    The positive to either of these setups is that it's one less thing to have to carry with you when you leave the house.  Key fobs with comfort access have certainly been around for a while and are convenient, but not carrying a key fob at all - - much better!!
    While it sounds very comfortable, what’s the security here? Do I need just to grab your phone in order to get into your car (and drive away eventually), giving it no biometric authentication?
    Should be Apple Pay that “convenient” as well?
  • Reply 7 of 8
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,565member
    tobian said:
    This puts a digital key in your Apple Wallet.  We have the older version of this on our 2021 BMW M440i.  The way it currently works is you have to tap your iPhone on the door handle - similar to using Apple Pay - in order to unlock your car, and then place your iPhone in the wireless charging area inside the car to start it.

    This new tech seems to allow you to keep your iPhone in your pocket and the car simply unlocks when you get close to it (rather than having to tap your iPhone on the door handle), and hopefully will allow you to start the car as well while leaving your phone in your pocket.  This is definitely an improvement!

    The positive to either of these setups is that it's one less thing to have to carry with you when you leave the house.  Key fobs with comfort access have certainly been around for a while and are convenient, but not carrying a key fob at all - - much better!!
    While it sounds very comfortable, what’s the security here? Do I need just to grab your phone in order to get into your car (and drive away eventually), giving it no biometric authentication?
    Should be Apple Pay that “convenient” as well?
    It’s fine. If the imaginary robber simply takes your key fob it’s no different. (the same imaginary robber who also chopped off TouchID fingers and plucked out AirPods, amirite!?)
  • Reply 8 of 8
    tobian said:
    This puts a digital key in your Apple Wallet.  We have the older version of this on our 2021 BMW M440i.  The way it currently works is you have to tap your iPhone on the door handle - similar to using Apple Pay - in order to unlock your car, and then place your iPhone in the wireless charging area inside the car to start it.

    This new tech seems to allow you to keep your iPhone in your pocket and the car simply unlocks when you get close to it (rather than having to tap your iPhone on the door handle), and hopefully will allow you to start the car as well while leaving your phone in your pocket.  This is definitely an improvement!

    The positive to either of these setups is that it's one less thing to have to carry with you when you leave the house.  Key fobs with comfort access have certainly been around for a while and are convenient, but not carrying a key fob at all - - much better!!
    While it sounds very comfortable, what’s the security here? Do I need just to grab your phone in order to get into your car (and drive away eventually), giving it no biometric authentication?
    Should be Apple Pay that “convenient” as well?
    No different than if someone gains access to your car's key fob, or your house key.  I don't see any additional risk, but definitely more convenience.
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