An announcement was made today by the Car Connectivity Consortium that its Digital Key 3.0 now offers support for Ultra-Wideband and Bluetooth LE connectivity and is available to CCC members as well as Apple.
Last year, the Cupertino tech giant introduced a digital CarKey feature that allows users to unlock and start a compatible vehicle by holding an Apple Watch or iPhone near the driver-side door. The feature is powered by the NFC-based Digital Key specification. Once Apple migrates to Digital Key 3.0, users will have the ability to unlock and start a compatible vehicle without needing to take their iPhone out of their pocket.
The CCC Digital Key 3.0 will enable Apple’s CarKey feature to work with iPhone
Digital Key Release 3 comes with improved security, as Ultra-Wideband’s precise location awareness is said to prevent relay attacks, where the radio signal between the vehicle and iPhone is intercepted by a third party. However, the improved Ultra-Wideband version of Apple’s CarKey feature requires devices with the U1 chip, much like iPhone 11 and iPhone 12. According to CCC president, Daniel Knobloch:
The CCC Digital Key already enables your mobile device to be used as a key for your vehicle. With the CCC Digital Key Release 3, the user expereince just got even better. The combination of Ultra-Wideband and Bluetooth Low Energy will allow you to leave your mobile device in your bag or pocket when approaching to unlock and start your vehicle – making Digital Key even more convenient.
Digital Key is a standardized ecosystem that allows mobile devices to store, authenticate, and share Digital Keys for vehicles in a seamless, secure, and privacy-preserving way. The new release 3.0 brings hands-free, location-aware keyless access and location-aware features for an improved user-friendly experience through the implementation of UWB in combination with Bluetooth LE.
Apple initially said that the new version of the CarKey would be made available sometime in 2021, but the tech giant did not provide an exact date. With this new release, it is highly likely that we will be seeing this function working properly in a few months or so.