Editor’s note: This article is from the micro-channel public number “car stuff” (ID: chedongxi), Author: James, 36 krypton release authorized.

The annual Apple Global Developer Conference WWDC kicked off early this morning. In the keynote speech, Apple released the next-generation operating systems for iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS. The new version of the operating system will be updated this fall.
In this WWDC conference, Apple has paid more attention to travel, and spent a total of 7 and a half minutes on maps, CarPlay, and Car Key updates.
Among them, Car Key’s update is the most eye-catching.After pairing with a car that supports Car Key, all you need to do is touch the phone with the door handle to open the door.Put the mobile phone on the wireless charging board in the car, and the vehicle can start.This feature will be officially launched next month. The first model to support this feature is the BMW 5 Series. All models produced after July 1 this year, except for the 7 Series, will support the Car Key function.
Today, it is not a new thing that mobile phones replace car keys, but most car companies use Bluetooth or mobile networks to achieve unlocking. These two unlocking methods are completely unavailable when the mobile phone has no electricity and no network, evenWith this function, the car owner also has to go out with the car key.
Apple uses the built-in NFC chip of the mobile phone to unlock the vehicle. It does not require a network connection for daily use. Even if the mobile phone is low on power and has been turned off, it can persist for 5 hours to unlock the vehicle.It can be said that Apple’s solution can completely replace the car key.
In fact, NFC technology is not new, there are many mobile phones with NFC function on the market today, but why are few car companies making NFC car keys?How does Apple Advantage achieve this feature?How will it develop in the future?
Car thing interviewed the car networking engineers of many car companies and got the answer.
One hundred years of car keys will be replaced by mobile phones
At 1 am today, the Apple Global Developer Conference WWDC officially kicked off.Apple has released the next-generation operating systems for iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS, and macOS. It also announced that it will use Apple’s self-developed processors on Mac computers.
In the keynote speech, car stuff summarized Apple’s three major car updates, namely CarPlay system update, map update, and mobile phone change car key.
Among them, unlocking the door with a mobile phone is one of the most eye-catching updates in this year’s WWDC keynote.Touch the phone with the door handle to unlock the door automatically. This “key” can also be shared with up to 5 people, which can be said to be very cool.
▲Unlock the door handle to unlock
Apple announced in its speech that the first model to support this feature will be the 2021 BMW 5 Series.According to information officially released by BMW, this function will also be extended to BMW 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, X5, X6, X7, X5M, X6M, Z4 and other models produced on July 1, this year.But not including the flagship BMW 7 Series.If you still have an iPhone XR and newer models or Apple Watch Series 5 released in 2018 and later, you can use your mobile phone to unlock the vehicle.This feature does not have to be updated to iOS 14, and now iOS 13 can also use this feature.
First of all, you need to pair the phone with the vehicle. After successful pairing, it will be stored in the wallet app of the phone in the form of a card.
▲ Car key in wallet app
If the driver needs to unlock the vehicle, gently touch the phone with the door handle to open the door.This feature has a similar experience to the Apple Pay transportation card, and it can be unlocked without lighting the phone screen.After entering the car, put the mobile phone on the wireless charging board to start the car directly.
▲ Apple Car Key function
Some people may worry, what if the phone is lost?
When using a mobile phone to unlock the vehicle, you can set a password or unlock the fingerprint/face for the car key. If the mobile phone is lost, it will not cause the vehicle to be lost.If you do not set a password for the car key, you can also remotely lock the car key through iCloud to reduce property damage.
In addition, Apple’s car key function can also share the access rights of the vehicle with others through iMessage, and can also cancel the permissions of others at any time.In the United States, if the vehicle is authorized to a young driver, it can also limit the vehicle’s acceleration, maximum speed and other parameters to ensure safe driving.
▲The car key can be shared through iMessage
There is also a question, what if the phone runs out of power?
In fact, the car key is similar to the Apple Pay transportation card. Even if the mobile phone is completely exhausted and turned off, the car key can last for 5 hours. During this period, the car can be unlocked, and the mobile phone can be charged with wireless charging after getting on the car.
Although the replacement of car keys by mobile phones is not a new thing, most car companies use Bluetooth or mobile networks to achieve unlocking. These two unlocking methods are completely unavailable when the mobile phone has no electricity and no network, even if there areFor such a function, the car owner usually still has to go out with the car key.
Apple uses an NFC chip to unlock the vehicle. It does not require a network connection for daily use. Even if the mobile phone is low on power and has been turned off, it can persist for 5 hours to unlock the vehicle.It can be said that Apple’s solution can completely replace the car key.
Apple BMW pushes industry norms to make NFC unlocking not easy
Nowadays, in the automotive industry, in addition to unlocking a car with a car key, there are three methods of Bluetooth, mobile network, and NFC, of ​​which NFC can also be divided into two methods of card type and mobile phone NFC.Which of these unlocking methods can replace the car key?
First, the mobile network is unlocked.The mobile device sends an unlocking instruction to the cloud server of the vehicle, and then the cloud server sends the unlocking instruction to the car, and the unlocking can be achieved.
However, it can’t be used under the condition that the network connection is poor and the mobile device has no power. Obviously, it is not an excellent solution.
Let’s talk about Bluetooth unlock.When the Bluetooth device in the car is connected to the owner’s mobile device, the door will be automatically unlocked.However, in order to be safe, most Bluetooth car key unlocks require the mobile phone to be unlocked or authenticated with a fingerprint, face or password.
However, the disadvantage of Bluetooth is also obvious. The mobile phone can’t be used when there is no power. For security, the app must be opened. Even if people are close, it cannot guarantee 100% connection success.
It seems that neither of these two unlocking methods can really replace the car key.The NFC card itself is equivalent to a “car key”, and there is no improvement in experience.
Of course, Apple, which has always been rigorous, will not use these solutions, so it uses mobile phone NFC to unlock.However, there is little support from car companies to use NFC to unlock cars. Why don’t other manufacturers do such a good solution?
First of all, it should be clear that NFC technology is not only used for driving door locks, but also can realize the functions of bus cards, access control cards and bank cards.This puts high demands on the security of the chip.If you want to call the NFC function of the mobile phone, the car company must establish contact with the mobile phone manufacturer. The car company needs to share the vehicle data, and the mobile phone manufacturer has to cooperate. This has caused trouble for many car companies.
Making a mobile phone NFC car key is not as simple as developing an app to call a network Bluetooth, so it is also very important to cooperate with whom.
To cooperate, we should first consider the big manufacturers. Apple is also a very good partner among the big manufacturers, with a large user base and spread all over the world.Therefore, no matter which car company cooperates with Apple, it is very normal.
From the practical point of view, the NFC unlocking of mobile phones is not only a security issue.For example, not using a network connection means that it cannot be tracked, and the vehicle unlock cannot be detected; at the same time, how to determine whether the key is outside or inside the car after the phone unlocks the door, and whether it is allowed to start; in addition, whether the NFC card will be copied at willBe abused.If these problems cannot be solved, the mobile phone NFC car key still cannot replace the traditional key.
This one problem is definitely difficult for a company to solve, so Apple and BMW pushed the boat and started to promote the drafting of industry specifications.
In May this year, the Digital Key Release 2.0 specification formulated by the Automotive Communications Consortium (CCC) was officially released. This specification is mainly composed of five regulations:
1. Electronic car keys must have the same security and privacy protection as physical car keys.
2. The interoperability and user experience between vehicles and mobile devices need to be consistent.
3. It is able to enter the vehicle, start fire, start, etc.
4. The owner can match the car key through standard or custom configuration, and can share it with friends.
5. Supports unlocking the vehicle in low battery mode, even if the mobile device is no longer operational.
▲Digital Key Release 2.0 specification formulated by the Automotive Communications Alliance
From these 5 standards, we can find that each standard is highly coincident with the function of Apple’s car key.
Here is a short story. At present, the head of Apple’s wireless communication and product ecosystem is SK Yong, and his LinkedIn profile shows that he is not only working at Apple, but also a member of the Automotive Communications Consortium (CCC).director.
This can explain why Apple and Digital Key Release 2.0 each of the requirements are highly consistent, because Apple directly participated in the formulation of the Digital Key Release 2.0 specification.This conclusion coincides with the statement of Craig Federighi, senior vice president of Apple Software in the WWDC keynote.
So, how does NFC unlock a car with a mobile device?There is a detailed description in the Digital Key Release 2.0 specification.
▲The flow of NFC and vehicle communication in the Digital Key Release 2.0 specification
First, the owner needs to pair the vehicle with the mobile device NFC.This process requires a network connection, and the server of the car manufacturer and the server of the mobile device manufacturer need to be interconnected.After confirming the data, car manufacturers and mobile device manufacturers will feedback confirmation information to users.
Then, the confirmation information will generate the architecture and program of the car key in the user’s mobile device, and this car key program is locked by the system security component, and the data in it cannot be accessed at will.
When the mobile device is close to the NFC sensing area of ​​the vehicle, the two will communicate with each other. The encrypted data in the mobile device is sent to the vehicle and is matched with the data saved by the vehicle. If the matching is successful, the door will be opened, otherwise it will continueKeep locked.
U1 chip precise positioning next year can drive the door without using a mobile phone
After completing the car key function at the WWDC demonstration early this morning, Craig Federighi, senior vice president of Apple Software, also mentioned that from next year, the U1 chip equipped with the iPhone will make the Apple car key function more convenient, even if it is placed in a trouser bag or backpack.You can unlock the vehicle without pulling out.This seems to be the correct “opening method” for Apple car keys.
However, the Digital Key Release 2.0 specification shows that regardless of how the mobile device is internally calculated, it is ultimately certified by the NFC chip to communicate with the vehicle.Is Apple going to be the first company to break the rules?
In fact, this is not the case. In the Digital Key Release 2.0 specification, there is also a 3.0 specification to be released next year, which mentions the use of ultra-bandwidth chips to achieve vehicle unlocking.
In September 2019, Apple released the iPhone 11 series of mobile phones. At that time, Apple only showed the iPhone 11 series equipped with U1 chips in the presentation, but Apple’s senior vice president Philip W. Schiller introduced the iPhone 11 series.No mention of this chip.Apple’s official website also describes the U1 chip with only a paragraph of text.In the half year since the release of the iPhone 11 series, what the mysterious chip can do has been the focus of discussion.
▲ iPhone 11 is equipped with U1 chip
This U1 chip is an ultra-bandwidth chip, similar to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, capable of transmitting a large amount of data in a short distance with a small power.Therefore, the two devices will be faster when transferring AirDrop files on the iPhone 11.
In addition, the most powerful thing about this chip is precise positioning.
▲Disassemble the Apple U1 ultra-wideband chip in the picture (in the red box)
According to Apple’s official website, this U1 chip can “give iPhone 11 space awareness, sense other nearby Apple devices equipped with U1 chips, and accurately determine the location of each other. You can think of it as covering your homeGPS throughout the living room.”
Back to the keynote speech of WWDC, if the U1 chip can be linked with the vehicle, then when the driver approaches the vehicle, the vehicle will accurately determine which area of ​​the vehicle the driver is in.
For example, the driver is standing behind the car with a mobile phone. At this time, someone tries to open the door of the cab. It cannot be unlocked. Only the driver can pull the car door or unlock the door of the whole car to let others enter the car.
In fact, not only is Apple using ultra-bandwidth chips, but other manufacturers have followed suit.
Last August, NXP worked with Volkswagen to develop an ultra-wideband chip for golf cars that can accurately locate the car key.In this way, it is impossible to use the car key signal to bridge and crack the vehicle.In addition, NXP also hopes to use mobile devices to accurately locate and unlock vehicles at the same time.
Conclusion: Car companies and technology giants promote the “four modernizations” of automobiles
Apple released the Car Key function in WWDC, making mobile devices a car key, which can make people’s lives continue to simplify, all information is combined in several mobile devices.Although this is not Apple’s first, but this design is very user-friendly, I believe there will be more car companies to follow up the function of NFC car keys.
On the road of “four modernizations” of automobiles, although auto companies have strong powers themselves, the power is still too small to drive the entire industry forward.With the blessings of technology giants such as Apple, Google, and Tesla, the entire auto industry will progress faster and people’s travel experience will be improved even more.

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