With release of iOS 14 Apple revealed the car key feature that would allow your iPhone or Apple Watch to wirelessly unlock and start your vehicle. How it works is similar to how you would use Apple Pay at the grocery store.
How Apple Pay utilizes a NFC (Near-field communication) chip to transmit data to make a payment, Apple Car Key uses the same technology. Once a user pairs their vehicle (currently only the 2021 BMW 5 Series supports this) all they need to do is hold their iPhone or Apple Watch next to the NFC reader built into the vehicle, which in most cases would be the door handle.
By default users would not need to unlock their phone by Face ID or code to unlock the vehicle but you will be able to turn on those features on if you wanted added security.
Various auto manufacturers offer similar features but those all require their proprietary apps to work, instead of natively being built into the iOS.
One additional feature that Apple Car Key provides is the ability to share a virtual car key with someone via the Message app. When sharing your car key you will able to restrict certain features in your car like, top speed, stereo volume as well as limit acceleration. These keys will also work with no network connection and even if the battery on your iPhone has run out of power you have up to 5 hours for it to be able to use the power reserve feature on the phone to unlock your vehicle.
Is this the future of car keys? Probably, it would be nice to have one less thing to carry around wouldn’t it?