Apple envisions ways to find and start your car with your iPhone

Two newly published patent applications highlight methods to track down and control your car via your iPhone's Bluetooth connection.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Those of us who can never find our cars in a crowded parking garage may one day get a helping hand from Apple.

Published Thursday by the U.S. Trade and Patent Office, an Apple patent application called "Method for locating a vehicle" describes a technology in which your mobile device can talk to your car through a Bluetooth connection to confirm that it's parked somewhere nearby. The parking garage itself would also have its own wireless system to pinpoint the exact location of your car.

A map would then display on your phone to lead you to your car, similar to the way current GPS systems lead you to a specific address.

OK, now you've found your car, but you can't find your keys. No problem. Your iPhone could lend a hand with that too.

Another patent application published Thursday called "Accessing a vehicle using portable devices" details a way to unlock the door using your mobile device. Your phone would essentially act as a replacement for a key fob, using certain security and authentication methods to gain access to your car.

Once inside, you could then use your phone to start the car, turn on the radio, adjust the seats, activate the headlights, and open the sunroof. Your car could even change certain settings based on the credentials stored on the iPhone. For example, the car seats or mirror would adjust themselves automatically depending on who's in the driver's seat. According to the application:

In some embodiments, the vehicle-related operation can include a personalization operation, in which the vehicle automatically adjusts an environmental setting (e.g., seat position, mirror position, temperature controls, settings for an audio or audiovisual entertainment system) based on the received vehicle access credential and/or on the particular portable device from which the vehicle access credential is received.

That last feature alone would be a time saver. I'd never again have to manually adjust the seats and mirrors after my wife drives my car.

(Via AppleInsider)