Apple still wants you to use your iPhone as your car keys

Apple's new Car Key Tests app could signal more vehicles will soon support the iPhone feature.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Image: Longhua Liao/Getty Images

Apple could be pushing for wider adoption of its Car Key feature for iPhones and has launched a new "Car Keys Tests" app that appears to be geared towards this goal. 

As first spotted by 9to5Mac, Apple added the new Car Key Tests app to the App Store this week. Since launching in 2020, only some BMW models -- and some of Hyundai's Kia and Genesis-brand vehicles -- support the iPhone Car Key feature. 

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The feature requires adding a car key to Apple Wallet for users to unlock and start the ignition of a car. You'll need an iPhone XS or later, iPhone SE (2nd generation), Apple Watch Series 5 or later, or Apple Watch SE. 

Users can use 'passive entry' to unlock the compatible vehicles with an iPhone 11 or later or Apple Watch Series 6 or later.  

The new app is apparently aimed at car manufacturers, who can access it via a direct link to test their vehicles. Since it's not intended for consumers, it isn't listed on App Store under Apple's developer account. 

Apple says the Car Key Tests app is aimed at Apple MFi (Made For iPhone) program licensees who can use the app to "test and validate connection, performance, and other key requirements for the certification process of the vehicles you develop that incorporate Apple digital car keys technology."

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The listing presents a number of test cases that vehicle makers can test related to remote keyless entry. It also notes the app requires iOS 16.1 or later.  

Image: Apple

Apple lists all the cars that support Car Play and Car Keys here and it suggests there is a lot of room to grow Car Key compatibility. Apple Car Play is supported by hundreds of different models across dozens of brands. Car Key, however, is only supported on about two dozen models across BMW (16), Hyundai (1), Kia (2), and Genesis (1).  

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