Tesla's iPhone app now supports ultra wideband (UWB), offering improved security and precision for digital car keys. (Bloomberg)News 

Tesla enhances iPhone app to improve accuracy tracking and security similar to Apple AirTag technology

Tesla has released a notable update to its iPhone application, which includes the addition of ultra-wideband (UWB) support in version 2024.2.3. This improvement, emphasized by Not a Tesla App, offers a stronger and more secure digital key experience in comparison to Bluetooth technology. With UWB’s precise tracking capabilities, the vehicle can accurately determine the precise position of the key, reducing the likelihood of replay spoofing attacks.

What are replay spoofing attacks?

In replay spoofing attacks, cybercriminals intercept secure online communications and then fraudulently delay or resend them to the wrong recipients. Phishing is pretending to do something else to gain trust or access, steal data, or spread malware.

Better accuracy and safety

The adoption of UWB extends beyond just security measures. It allows the car to detect which user is approaching the driver’s side, which is especially useful in situations where several people with phone keys approach the vehicle at the same time. This precise tracking is similar to the technology behind Apple AirTags, which ensure accurate positioning even in challenging environments, The Verge reported.

While this development is currently exclusive to iPhones, it points to a potential expansion to Android devices, especially given recent models like the Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy phones with UWB chips.

When updating to the latest version, users are prompted to update the phone key, which gives the app access to Nearby Interactions via the iPhone’s U1 chip. This setting can be found under Settings > Privacy & Security > Nearby Interactions.

Vehicle compatibility and future integration

Notably, only the latest Model 3 and 2023 Model X currently support this feature, with the promise of integration with newer Model X, Model S, and Cybertruck versions. Compatibility extends from the iPhone 11 series onwards, excluding SE models.

In addition, Tesla’s latest software update includes Ultra Wideband support, which improves the functionality of the built-in Phone Key feature. This allows Tesla owners to conveniently lock and unlock their vehicles with their iPhones, eliminating the need for a physical key.

Thanks to UWB technology, the Phone Key feature improves accuracy, ensuring timely detection of the iPhone’s proximity to the vehicle, enabling seamless locking and unlocking. The release notes highlight the improved responsiveness of automatic doors equipped with UWB:

“Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology is now available for Phone Key. So your vehicle and Phone Key can communicate more accurately and lock, unlock and unlock automatic doors with greater sensitivity.”

To take advantage of these advancements, Tesla owners must have both an Ultra Wideband-enabled vehicle and an iPhone equipped with this technology. Activating the updated UWB key requires opening the Phone Key section of the Tesla app, which must be updated to version 4.29.5, and following the given update steps.

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