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iOS 16.4 beta code suggests Car Key could drop NFC support

Published Mar 8th, 2023 7:07AM EST
iOS 14 Car Key
Image: Apple Inc.

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One of the features most users would hope could be expanded faster, Car Key, was introduced in 2020 and worked as the key of your car. By approaching your iPhone or Apple Watch at the car’s door, you could unlock it as you’d pay for a product with Apple Pay.

While this feature is still limited to a few series of car brands, Apple is planning to make Car Key more secure by dropping NFC support and only relying on iPhone and Apple Watch models that offer the U1 chip.

According to the codes of iOS 16.4 beta 3 seen by 9to5Mac, Apple has added a new string that will warn users that their iPhone is not compatible with the Car Key feature: “Car is not compatible with this iPhone/Apple Watch mode” for NFC-only compatible devices.

Currently, Car Key via NFC works exclusively with the iPhone XS, iPhone SE, Apple Watch Series 5, and Apple Watch SE models. If Apple drops support for NFC, these would be the iPhone and Apple Watch models that will be able to unlock your car with the U1 chip:

  • iPhone 11 models
  • iPhone 12 models
  • iPhone 13 models
  • iPhone 14 models
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch Series 7
  • Apple Watch Series 8
  • Apple Watch Ultra

While NFC needs to be held closer to a reader to initiate a connection and transmit data, UWB on the U1 chip is more modern and can precisely measure the distance between two devices.

Interestingly enough, if this code hints at what Apple plans to add, all iPhone SE and Apple Watch SE models will also stop working with Car Key, as they also lack the U1 chip.

Apple started testing iOS 16.4 almost a month ago. This update includes 30+ emojis, tweaks to the Apple Music and Apple Podcasts apps, 5G Standalone support, new HomeKit architecture, and more. BGR will let you know if we discover more about this new operating system.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.