Apple 'iCar' Patents Could See An iPhone Start Your Car - And Tell You Where You Parked It

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A raft of new Apple patents suggests the tech giant might attempt to replace your car key with your iPhone.

According to documents published by the US Patent Office and posted by Apple Insider, Apple has registered patents that would see a smartphone used as a car starter, a remote unlocker and a parking locater.

Admittedly it's worth taking the news with caution - Apple patents don't necessarily mean a product is in the works, and many such concepts registered by the company have never seen the light of day.

But the ideas do hint at a potentially closer relationship between Apple and car companies, such as that announced with Volkswagen in recent days regarding the so-called 'iBeetle'.

While little more than a normal Beetle with a built-in iPhone docking station, that car will allow users to make hands-free calls and listen to music via an included app designed for use in cars.

The new patents go much further, and describe a system that would essentially replace the functionality of a 'fob' car starter with a smartphone.

One of the patents describes how a system cars could be paired to phones via Bluetooth, which would detect when a car was parked automatically.

Using a system of various indoor WiFi networks or other signals, the phone would be able to direct the driver back to their vehicle.

The network is not dissimilar to those developed by the company WiFiSLAM, which Apple recently purchased.

Another system would turn the phone into an 'unlocker', able to start the vehicle, open the doors and set security settings. A user would be able to require a pin code to use some of the app's functionality, or else only use it during certain hours.

The patent would even allow for the phone to determine the maximum speed of the vehicle, or set it to be used only in certain areas.

 
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