Proximity keys have been around for a couple of decades and my colleague Jason Torchinsky explained why they are bad More than seven years ago, and they are still here. Apple CarKey, announced today As part of the upcoming CarPlay updates, it’s not much different or much of an improvement.
The key will debut in the BMW 5 Series 2021, and will allow your phone to unlock the car, and if your phone is present on a charging pad in the car (and probably not there but close enough), turn the car on. with a button. Apple said in its announcement that the car owner can also share the CarKey with other drivers, including a mode that will allow him to restrict privileges designed, presumably, to share with teens.
The problem with all this is that I don’t use it. There is no purer, simpler or healthier pleasure in this world than putting the keys in the ignition and starting the car. The keys themselves represent a kind of accidental art, a physical object that no app, no matter how cleverly designed, can compete.
And while proximity keys are bad enough, this goes one step further, because you’re handing over your car keys to a tech company. The privacy implications of that and the potential for hacking are two issues that I can only imagine, for now, the consequences, but I’m pretty sure they won’t be great.
Which makes me wonder why we bothered to do this, since we already had a system that worked quite well: the humble car key, which only got better when remote locking and unlocking became widespread in the 90s. Sometimes the technology is good enough.