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Apple CarKey: Sharing your wheels will be as easy as sending a text

Apple’s forthcoming CarKey feature will allow vehicle owners to share digital car keys to fellow iPhone or Apple Watch users via the Messages app.

The latest iOS 13.4 beta reveals that temporary access to unlock and indeed drive compatible cars can simply be texted to a friend, family member or colleague (via MacRumors). Once the recipient opens the message, it will be necessary to use Touch ID or Face ID to confirm they are the intended target for the message.

From there, the iPhone or Apple Watch will then be authorised to use the NFC connection to access the vehicle. Here’s how the message will look, as revealed by the second iOS 13.4 beta:

“[Vehicle Owner] invited you to use their [Vehicle Model] with unlock & drive access. This allows you to use your ‌iPhone‌ and ‌Apple Watch‌ to unlock/lock the car, start the engine and drive.”

Naturally, it will not be possible to send the digital keys within group messages, as Apple explains within the beta. It says: “CarKey is not available in group conversations. You can send CarKey in conversations with an individual.”

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Apple is currently in discussions with car manufacturers in order to integrate the functionality, in much the same way it integrated CarPlay. Of course, some car manufacturers like Volvo (pictured) already support keyless entry, so we’d expect to see compatibility within 2021 models of popular vehicles.

The feature has potential to be a bit of a game changer for an industry that may be moving towards car sharing rather than car ownership. The owner could just text the key to whomever is using the car on that day, rather than needing to perform a physical handover. It could also make the process of hiring a car from the airport a million times easier.

We’d expect Apple to detail this feature in the coming months. Potentially at WWDC in June, or even alongside the expected iPhone 9 reveal that could take place in March.