Apple first announced that its digital Car Key feature was coming to iPhone back in 2020. The idea, of course, being that you replace your ordinary car key with your iPhone. Unfortunately the feature never really gained any momentum, and only become available on non-BMWs in the middle of 2022 (opens in new tab).
But it looks like Apple could be taking measures to help automakers adopt the feature on their own cars. 9to5Mac (opens in new tab) spotted Apple’s developer account has added a new “Car Key Tests” app (opens in new tab) to the the App Store. Judging from its description, this app is designed to “test and validate” the Car Key feature.
This should, in theory, help automakers integrate the technology into new cars and make sure it works as intended. The fact that it’s available on iPhone should simplify the process as well, and means going from the testing phase to official certification should be a piece of cake. Hopefully, this means Apple’s digital car key technology will come to even more cars over the next couple of years.
Of course, the app is only for people with a Made For iPhone (MFi) licence, and isn’t publicly available to download. You can’t even search for it, and the only way to even see the Car Key Tests app is via a direct link.
Back when Apple Pay first launched, Apple shared its ambition to have the iPhone replace all the other things you have to carry around each day. This expanded over time, with Apple Wallet now able to store loyalty cards, concert tickets, boarding passes, and government IDs on top of credit and debit cards.
Adding car keys into the mix pushed that another step further. Not only does it let you unlock and start your car from the Wallet app, you’re also able to share a digital car key with other iPhones. Much easier than carrying a car key or fob around, and without having to worry about trivial things like swapping batteries or paying over the odds for extra keys.
The only issue is that only a handful of cars actually support the feature. So far only BMW, Genesis and Kia have Apple Car Key integration, with 18 models supported — only 4 of which aren’t BMW. Other cars, like Tesla, offer their own digital car key features, bit that isn’t quite as convenient as having it built into your phone out of the box.
Here’s hoping the Car Key Tests app helps change things, and helps automakers get on board. But we’re just going to have to sit tight and see what happens over the next few years. And here’s hoping Android follow’s Apple’s lead, much as it did with the launch of its own digital car key feature in Android 12.