Something to look forward to: Smartphones can perform a multitude of functions, and they might soon be able to unlock, lock, and even start a vehicle. The feature, which has been discovered in the beta version of iOS 13.4 for developers, allows iPhone and Apple Watch owners to use the devices as car keys with NFC-compatible vehicles.

9to5Mac discovered references to a “CarKey” API in the beta of iOS 13.4. According to the files, users will only need to hold their iPhone/Apple Watch near a vehicle to use it like a key.

It was also discovered that the feature would exist within the wallet app, and, as is the case with Express Transit Cards, it doesn’t require Face ID after the initial pairing; this means that CarKey will work even with an iPhone or Apple Watch that's out of battery power.

Those interested in using the feature will require an NFC-compatible car, of course, and will need the vehicle manufacturer’s app installed. Users have to place their iPhone on top of the car’s NFC reader during the initial setup, and CarKey will appear in the wallet app. It can then be added to the Apple Watch.

Another aspect of CarKey is that it can be shared with friends and family members. Users can invite them via the wallet app, at which point they’ll see a message reading: “%@ invited you to use their %@ with unlock access. This allows you to use your iPhone and Apple Watch to unlock/lock the car.”

It’s believed that Apple is already working with some car manufacturers to implement CarKey, but there’s been no official announcement from the company about the feature yet. Assuming everything goes to plan, expect to see it once iOS 13.4 officially arrives.

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