Apple wants your smartphone to replace your car keys.
The technology manufacturing giant has already made it possible for your iPhone to replace your wallet and now its seems Apple wants you to use you iPhone in place of your car keys.
A patent granted this week suggests that Apple is working on technology that would allow drivers to use their iPhones or possibly an Apple Watch to access their vehicles.
The patent suggests an iPhone could be made to connect with a vehicle via Bluetooth and an access code. The US patent relates to ‘a primary portable device [that] can access a vehicle by transmitting an activation message including a vehicle access credential to the vehicle.’ This means that drivers could use their iPhone to unlock their car, as well as start the engine.
The patent also suggests that one device – an iPhone for example – could pass a digital key onto another gadget – perhaps another iPhone or the Apple Watch, and this could be used to unlock a car.
Other firms are also working on devices and apps with which to unlock cars. For example, BMW lets drivers of certain cars lock and unlock them using their smartphone and a software firm called Eleks Lab has created an experimental app that could let Tesla drivers control their car's functions from the Apple Watch.
Apple already owns a similar patent that could allow drivers to unlock their vehicle using their iPhone with an ‘accessory control,’ is has been reported.
While many patents never translate into real world products, this one seems as though it could come into fruition as many tech firms are exploring ways to connect devices to vehicles. For example, BMW lets drivers of certain cars lock and unlock them using their smartphone. While Hyundai has launched an Android Wear watch that connects to its Blue Link system to start a car’s engine or lock and unlock its doors. The gadget uses voice recognition to find lost cars in car parks too.
Software engineering company Eleks Lab has created an app to run on the Apple Watch that would allow drivers of Tesla’s Model S to lock their car, turn on its headlights and show where it is parked.
The firm, which has offices in London and in the Ukraine, made the app as an experiment and said it would work using web-service API.