In-Car Tech

Apple WWDC: Phone-as-key coming to BMW 5 Series, other ​brands likely to follow

Apple has introduced a number of technologies and refreshed our notion of others as part of its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

Photo courtesy of BMW

UPDATE: This article was updated at 4:15 pm. ET on June 22, 2020 to include additional information supplied by the automaker.

During their keynote address at the Worldwide Developers Conference today, Apple revealed that the BMW 5 Series will be getting phone-as-key technology, called CarKey, for the 2021 model year. Additionally, BMW has said that the tech will be available on a board range of models that are manufacturers after July 1, 2020: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, X5, X6, X7, X5M, X6M and Z4. The system will be compatible with iPhone XR, iPhone XS or newer, and Apple Watch Series 5 or newer models.

According to Apple, the technology uses near field communication (NFC) to open the car. Then, drivers will place their phone in the charging pad in order to start the vehicle.

Apple WWDC 14 BMW CarKey To use, drivers place their phone near the door handle.Photo courtesy of BMW

The digital key is stored in the Secure Element of the phone. It can be disabled via iCloud if a phone is lost and keys can be shared via iMessage.

Apple stresses that the company is working with industry groups to ensure that the technology is able to be universal for vehicles as well as secure.

The news came as Apple unveiled a variety of features as part of iOS 14. The phone-as-key functionality will be available on iOS 14 and Apple will be updating iOS 13 to make it available to users of that system as well.

This is a big step for Apple. Until iOS 14, the company had locked its NFC chip making phone-as-key functionality unusable to all but Tesla owners because Tesla uses Bluetooth technology to connect phone with vehicle. In the Tesla app, users do not have the ability to disable their phone-as-key functionality, instead having to contact Tesla Support to assistance.

Car owners can also share access to their car with up to five people via the car's operating system or Apple Wallet. Additionally, owners may set specific parameters for teen drivers including restrictions of top speed, horsepower, and maximum radio volume,

Lincoln and Hyundai are among the automakers using NFC technology in their vehicles giving owners the ability to forego a traditional key fob. Hyundai showed this technology off in its "Smaht Pahk" commercial during the Super Bowl this year and a subsequent follow-up spot where an owner passes a digital key to their parent so the parents can drive their car.

Apple WWDC 14 BMW CarKey Proximity plays a role in phone-as-key technology as the tech components have to be able to "read" each other's signals.Photo courtesy of BMW

CarKey can operate for up to five hours after an iPhone's batter is depleted to the point where the phone automatically turns off. The system is Apple Watch compatible.

The redesigned 2021 BMW 5 Series comes in seven variants. The revisions to the model bring it fully up to date without going so far as to give the 5 Series the same bucktoothed aesthetics that BMW put into the new 4 Series.

In addition to its new 5 Series, BMW recently showed off the new, next-gen plug-in hybrid variant of the SUV, the 2021 BMW xDrive45e. That new SUV comes with increased all-electric driving range, a significant horsepower bump, and a 7,200-pound towing capacity.

The 2021 BMW 5 Series will arrive on dealership lots in July.

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New performance SUV

Hyundai announces pricing for 2022 Kona N

The Kona N is price right at $35,425.

Hyundai

Hyundai is hard at work developing new electric vehicles, and has released some truly interesting electric concepts in recent months. However, the automaker’s efforts in the electric world haven’t stopped it from rolling out fun-to-drive and affordable performance vehicles under its N brand. Today, Hyundai announced pricing for the latest vehicle in the series. The Kona N will go on sale soon with a reasonable starting price of $35,425, which includes a $1,225 destination charge.

2022 Hyundai Kona N One well-equipped model will be available.Hyundai

The Kona N joins Hyundai’s high-performance stable that also includes the Veloster N and Elantra N, though the latter hasn’t yet hit the streets. The hot crossover gets the same output numbers from its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder as the Elantra N: 276 horsepower and 289 pound-feet of torque. The Veloster gets 275 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. That rowdy four-banger is paired with an eight-speed wet dual-clutch transmission.

Hyundai’s full-on N cars get plenty of other go-fast bits to keep them planted in corners and stable at higher speeds. The Kona N gets an electronic limited-slip differential, an active sport exhaust system, electronically controlled suspension, and 19-inch wheels with Pirelli P-Zero performance tires.

2022 Hyundai Kona N Aggressive wheels and tires help keep the Kona N planted in corners.Hyundai

Hyundai generally knocks it out of the park with value, and the Kona N is no exception. Its modest price tag buys a generous helping of advanced driver aids in addition to its exciting specs. Standard features include forward collision warnings, lane keep assist, lane following assist, driver attention warnings, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, and a safe exit warning system.

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OTA software updates

Tesla rolls back FSD beta before issuing fix

Tesla issued a beta update but quickly pulled it back.

Tesla

Tesla's Full Self-Driving tech is currently in public beta testing, which means that the automaker allows a subset of its owners to download the software to their cars. Over the weekend, Tesla released FSD beta 10.3 and users started reporting issues almost immediately. Since Tesla's PR department is essentially CEO Elon Musk's Twitter account, he took to social media to outline the process to fix problems with the beta.

Tesla FSD Drivers reported issues with vehicle safety systems after updating.Tesla

Musk tweeted that public beta version 10.3 was rolled back to 10.2. "Please note, this is to be expected with beta software," he said. Issues began popping up with Tesla owners on various forums and on social media. Drivers reported that cars shut off active safety features without their input and some noted that their forward collision warnings and automatic emergency braking systems malfunctioned, causing the cars to apply the brakes without any apparent danger in the road ahead.

Tesla FSD A new beta was released this morning with fixes for the problems.Tesla

Early this morning, Musk tweeted again to note that beta version 10.3.1 is rolling out now, which would re-update users to the latest version with fixes. All of this illustrates how FSD is not final and has a way to go before it's ready for showtime. Developing software of any type is difficult work, made even harder by the fact that public roads are so unpredictable at times. So, while Tesla's public beta approach, which puts unproven functions into the hands of everyday drivers, may not be the most palatable for many of us on the roads at the same time, it's certainly netting the company plenty of data to work with.

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