Apple's 'virtual key' will allow owners to unlock their car with their phone
San Francisco - Apple has announced a system that will let iPhone owners unlock and start cars with their devices.
The new system, which also lets users share digital car keys with friends and family members via the company's iMessage system, will be launched with BMW's new 5 Series, Apple said in a virtual keynote filmed at its Cupertino, California, headquarters.
The system will work with phones running the current iOS 13 operating system so that owners can start using it when BMW vehicles arrive. Apple said more cars that work with the system will come to market next year.
"The upcoming BMW Digital Key for the iPhone will enable customers to just tap to unlock and easily get going by placing the iPhone in the smartphone tray and pushing the start button," BMW said.
"Setup of the Digital Key can be done through the BMW Smartphone App. The car owner can also share access with up to 5 friends including a configurable car access option for young drivers which restricts top speed, power, maximum radio volume and more. Management of access can be done from inside the car as well as through Apple Wallet".
Apple has also updated its mapping application with information about electric vehicle charging stations, working with BMW and Ford to show stations compatible with the user's vehicle.
The automotive announcements came at an annual conference where Apple was expected to signal a departure from Intel Corp's almost 15-year run supplying Mac computer processors.
Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference comes as paid services sold through the App Store have become central to the Cupertino, California, company's revenue growth as consumers have slowed the growth of iPhone upgrades. Apple takes a 15% to 30% cut of the sales developers make through the App Store, which is the only way to distribute software onto Apple's mobile devices.
The feature will first be offered in the new BMW 5 Series.
Those fees, and Apple's strict app review process, have come under antitrust scrutiny in the United States and Europe, where regulators last week unveiled a formal probe into the company.
But developers still gravitate toward Apple's platform because it is lucrative, with a user base that is willing to spend money on paid apps. The annual developer conference, being held online this year for the first time because of the novel coronavirus, is where Apple often announces access to new hardware capabilities, such as special tools for artificial intelligence and augmented reality.
Apple this year could announce a move to part ways with Intel, which has supplied processors for Mac computers since 2006. Apple could announce a move to use its own house-designed processors as soon as Monday, two people familiar with matter told Reuters. The company, which already uses its own processor designs in iPhones in iPads, could announce one laptop model and one desktop model that will use the new chips, one of the people told Reuters.
An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on the company's future plans or products.
If Apple announces the move Monday, it will build on a tool it introduced last year called Catalyst, which aims to make it easier for developers to move their apps from Apple's mobile operating systems to Mac computers.