Apple leads the charge toward a future of near-empty pockets

Thanks to Apple Pay, millions are now comfortable leaving the house without their wallets. And HomeKit-enabled gadgets allow users to lock and unlock their front door with an app. Is it really so crazy to expect that we could someday unlock our cars with our iPhones?

Apparently not, according to the Car Connectivity Consortium, a group which just unveiled plans for a universal “digital car key” that can lock, unlock, and start a car without the need for a physical key. This feature could theoretically work on any NFC-enabled smart device, and would likely be engaged using TouchID or FaceID, much like Apple Pay.

Apple is one of the core members of the consortium, so you’d better believe iPhones would be one of the first to embrace this technology. The CCC is working towards finishing a consumer-ready version of this tech in time for “early 2019,” which could mean that next year’s iPhones embrace the feature. The standardized protocols could also be implemented across iPad and Apple Watch, as well as rival smart devices from fellow consortium member Samsung.

Of course, car makers would have to embrace the technology too, but with companies including Audi, BMW, General Motors, HYUNDAI, and Volkswagen already on board, we don’t see that as a sticking point.

Still not convinced this is a good idea? We can think of several benefits to a digital car key system.

Firstly, it saves users having to keep track of another set of keys when they leave the house – if you have your iPhone, you’re good to go. One less thing to remember, one less thing to lose.

Secondly, it means that even if your device is stolen it won’t grant access to your car without your biometric authentication. The same can’t be said for a regular set of car keys!

Thirdly, this kind of protocol should make it easy for users to share access to their cars with others. You can imagine it being tied into Family Sharing so everyone in the family can use the car without ordering a bunch of new keys.

On the flipside, however, we can imagine a situation where running out of battery on your iPhone could result in being stranded somewhere, so we’re torn on the idea. Would you be keen for a digital car key?