What Is the Apple Car Key and Is it Safe to Use?

Apple released a handy feature back in 2020 called Apple Car Key at its Worldwide Developers Conference. It’s a feature that allows the user to unlock and start their compatible cars by using their phone, specifically the Apple Wallet in their compatible iPhone. Two years later, the technology still exists although it’s not that prevalent. However, is it even safe to use?

The Apple Car Key is as safe to use as anything in your Apple Wallet

 Interior on a BMW 5 series
Interior on a BMW 5 series | Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

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If you can trust having a few of your credit or debit cards tied to the Apple Wallet in your iPhone, then you can trust having the Apple Car Key. It essentially works the same way that those digital payments do and it’s protected using the phone’s Touch ID, Face ID, and passcode protection. According to Make Use Of, the Apple Car Key function will even keep working for up to five hours if your phone dies out – that means you can still unlock and drive the car even when the phone is fully drained.

Also, if you ever lose your phone or if it gets stolen, you can deactivate the Car Key feature via iCloud. At that point, you’ll have to be like us regular folks and use the car’s regular key to drive it.

A couple of other cool features to note is that the Car Key can be shared with other iPhone users. And if you’re planning on tossing the digital key to a teenage driver, you can even set certain  parameters like vehicle speed and audio sound to limit their “fun.”

Additionally, the Apple Car Key has an Express mode feature that can sense when the phone is nearby and will unlock and start the car, allowing you to keep the phone in your purse or pocket

The Car Key feature is cool, but don’t throw away your car’s regular key just yet

If the thought of alleviating your pockets or purse of your car keys sounds exciting, don’t act too fast. As of this writing, the Apple Car Key feature is still only available on the following BMW models:

  • BMW 1 Series
  • BMW 2 Series
  • BMW 3 Series
  • BMW 4 Series
  • BMW 5 Series
  • BMW 6 Series
  • BMW 8 Series
  • BMW M8
  • BMW X5
  • BMW X5 M
  • BMW X6
  • BMW X6 M
  • BMW X7
  • BMW Z4

More automakers and models should be added to the list soon enough. Although, it’s worth noting that many automakers, like Hyundai and Tesla, already have their own versions of a digital key that owners can take advantage of when they purchase a new car. In that case, the Apple Car Key may or may not catch on in the future, but considering that list hasn’t expanded much in the past two years, we’re not exactly holding our breath.

If you have a compatible car and Apple iPhone, here is how to use Apple Car Key

In case you do have one of the listed BMW automobiles and would like to use Apple Car Key on your compatible iPhone (XS and above), then here are the steps from Apple for pairing your car key:

  • Your car’s manufacturer will provide details of the account and give you instructions on pairing the device.
  • When the instructions direct you to the wallet app, go to the Apple Wallet app
  • Put your iPhone near the key reader and it will pair with the car
  • Once the phone is done pairing, click “Done”

The whole process and functionality of the Apple Car Key are relatively simple. The feature can lock, unlock, and start your car and it’s as safe as anything in your Apple Wallet. Now, the only trick is buying one of those compatible BMWs.

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