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Apple’s upcoming feature will let you share car keys with just a message

Apple is slowly but surely eliminating the need to take anything with you except your iPhone. The company is trying to replace the wallet with Apple Pay, and now it’s trying to take the place of your car keys with the new CarKey feature referenced in the iOS 13.4 beta.

The new feature will essentially allow users to unlock, lock, and start certain NFC-compatible cars. The “keys” themselves can be seen in the Wallet app — and even shared with other people, directly through the Messages app.

Similar to smart house keys, it means you can temporarily grant access to a friend who might need to use your car, for example, and then revoke access when they’re done. When you share a key with a friend or family member, they’ll be able to use it by holding their phone to an NFC reader inside of the car. You can permanently grant access to a car, like you might want to with your spouse or significant other, as well as temporarily grant access, like to a valet driver or a mechanic.

CarKey is aimed at being relatively safe too — for example, someone won’t be able to access your car simply by holding your phone. The feature will be locked behind features like Face ID or Touch ID to ensure that the person trying to access the car actually has permission.

Of course, it may take some time before CarKey is a widely used feature. That’s because car manufacturers will have to build NFC readers into their cars. As noted by MacRumors, Apple is a member of the Car Connectivity Consortium, which recently announced the Digital Key 2.0 specification — which itself is based on NFC. As such, it won’t just be Apple pushing for NFC connectivity in cars — it may be a standardized feature over the next few years.

The CarKey feature will likely launch officially alongside iOS 13.4, and it may be announced by Apple on stage at a rumored March 31 event. Also rumored for that event is a new low-cost iPhone — though some reports indicate that the manufacturing of the upcoming device has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

If you want to know more, you can also check out our guide on what Apple CarPlay is.

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