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Volvo Wants You To Ditch Car Keys For Its New Smartphone App (dailydot.com) 293

An anonymous reader quotes an article on DailyDot: Lending your car to a friend could be as easy as sending a text. That's the future Volvo is imaging with its smartphone app that enables keyless entry for the driver -- and anyone with permission to enter. Announced earlier this year and now prominently on display at the New York International Auto Show, the app does away with key fobs and puts the key right on the user's phone. Using the device's Bluetooth capability, the app can do just about everything that a standard key could do -- from unlocking the doors to popping open the trunk to even starting the engine of the vehicle without turning the ignition. Beyond just convenience for the primary holder, the Volvo app also allows others to take the wheel without requiring a physical key. Users are able to grant digital keys to others, allowing them temporary or ongoing access to the car.
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Volvo Wants You To Ditch Car Keys For Its New Smartphone App

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  • It is inevitable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_other_one ( 178565 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @04:43PM (#51794931) Homepage

    Someone will forget to charge their phone when parked in the desert.

    • by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @04:46PM (#51794963)
      Worse than that, I need to get into the car to charge the phone.
    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      Hopefully I can use my phone as an NFC card or something. Come to think of it, not sure that phones can do that without power...
      • Hopefully I can use my phone as an NFC card or something. Come to think of it, not sure that phones can do that without power...

        An interesting question

        Passive NFC devices include tags, and other small transmitters, that can send information to other NFC devices without the need for a power source of their own. However, they don’t really process any information sent from other sources, and can’t connect to other passive components. These often take the form of interactive signs on walls or advertisements.

        I actually saw this quote last but this seems to clinch it. Regardless of how they would work in a situation where

      • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @06:31PM (#51795717) Homepage Journal
        Hell, I hope this is optional.

        A regular old analog key works JUST fine for me...

        Heck at this point, I'm trying to make sure I can DISable many of the new car "innovations" before I get a new one, especially if something like OnStar or UConnect which are no longer options, but are imposed upon you.

        I just want a car that works, looks nice and goes fast...I don't need the tracking, surveillance or other multiple points of failure, like a missing, out of power, or stoled cell phone required to make my automobile function.

        I rarely ever let others drive my car to begin with....

    • Someone will forget to charge their phone when parked in the desert.

      Let's just go ahead and call it properly.. throw ahead to Burning Man

    • Most current keyless systems have a back up way to get into the car, whether it's a hidden mechanical lock, a back up numerical keypad, or an NFC card reader (that is powered by the car, not by the phone). That being said, the last two methods require a working car battery, so that might cause problems too.

      • I'd extend that to ALL keyless entry systems include a mechanical lock as backup, because yes, car batteries DO go dead... especially when they are constantly drawing current because they are listening for keyless entry transmitters!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Lumpy ( 12016 )

          Most modern cars, if parked for 2 weeks will have a dead battery. Just ask people that fly out for an extended vacation to find a dead car in the long term parking. It's very common now days to the point that airports now offer a service where an attendant will start your car and run it for 30 minutes once a week while you are gone, the kiosk for this is over by the car rentals.

    • Yeah, you know you still need to be able to unlock the car when the car battery goes dead, too, right? So regardless of what wireless keys exist, there will always be a mechanical unlocking mechanism present. My Mazda senses the transmitter/key in my pocket, but the transmitter also contains an old-fashioned key I can use to unlock the door and start the engine. In general, good engineers always design in mechanical backups to electronic systems... especially for electronic sunroofs!
    • Or needing help to unlock the car because it's locked and my phone is charging inside.
    • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

      Someone will forget to charge their phone when parked in the desert.

      ...or you'll lose your phone while on a trip (guilty!) and will have no way to get back in when you return.

      Do Not Want.

      • ...or you'll lose your phone while on a trip (guilty!) and will have no way to get back in when you return.

        How is that any different from losing your car keys?

        Do Not Want.

        Just buy a new phone, and then call Volvo to activate it.

  • I'm sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by caladine ( 1290184 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @04:43PM (#51794933)
    ... that this will be secured in a fashion consistent with the auto industry's stellar record on vehicle security.
    • ha ha in the 80's when the remote unlock systems first came out someone made a box that listened to the easy to crack code and then sent his own unlock code. he sold them via mail order before the internet to car thieves
    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      So, to Bluetooth pair the phone so you can open and start the car, they'll just use high security. i.e. a code other than 0000 or 1234. </sarcasm>
      • the car better have a pad or touch screen to set that pin as with voice it will be set to something easy to for it read from voice.

    • Simple logic: when car's get stolen, the car manufacturer gets to sell a replacement car, covered by insurance. What incentive does the car manufacturer have to build a theft-proof car? That would decrease their revenue and increase their support costs for dealing with people that locked themselves out of their car! Repeat the mantra: all corporate behavior can be explained through simple profit motive!
  • So, like Tesla? (Score:4, Informative)

    by green1 ( 322787 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @04:43PM (#51794935)

    Sounds exactly like what Tesla has had for several years now.

    • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @04:53PM (#51795023)

      Not exactly. It lacks the smug sense of superiority that Tesla owners crave.

      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        So more like the existing Onstart one from GM then?

        • Re:So, like Tesla? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @05:30PM (#51795313)

          So more like the existing Onstart one from GM then?

          Not sure if you're talking about Onstar owners smug sense of superiority (is there such a thing?) or the fact Onstar already has remote access, but I believe that all of the Onstar functionality happens over the cellular network, even the phone app uses the cellular network to send a signal to your car. So if you're out of cell phone range, you're out of luck.

          The Volvo system uses bluetooth, no cellular network required.

          • by mlw4428 ( 1029576 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @06:41PM (#51795777)
            > Onstar owners smug sense of superiority (is there such a thing?)

            Nah, most of us Onstars don't even think about the plebeian poser fucks who don't have it.
            • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

              > Onstar owners smug sense of superiority (is there such a thing?)

              Nah, most of us Onstars don't even think about the plebeian poser fucks who don't have it.

              That's just a surprising attitude from someone that drives a GM car -- "elitist" doesn't come to mind.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        Volvos, at least in Minnesota, used to carry a kind of progressive smugness about them. We used to call them the official car of the socialist state because it was hard to spot a 240 without a Carter/Mondale/anti-Nuke sticker on the back.

      • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

        Not exactly. It lacks the smug sense of superiority that Tesla owners crave.

        Because Volvo owners have no smug sense of superiority?

      • I know this was meant to be funny but, I think it's pretty much dead on. I think a huge amount of technology these days is not designed to provide appreciable benefits to the user, it's designed to give the user a smug sense of superiority over those that don't have the technology. It's become an ingrained part of our society at this point: Fuck functional, reliable and convenient, people just want shiny.

  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @04:46PM (#51794959)
    This is great news, particularly since Bluetooth is so secure. And nothing could ever go wrong here.
    • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

      This is great news, particularly since Bluetooth is so secure. And nothing could ever go wrong here.

      it's a well published and examined protocol, and there's nothing keeping Volvo from putting their own security layer on top of it.

      Do you think the proprietary opaque keyfob implementations are safer than bluetooth?

      • Do you think the proprietary opaque keyfob implementations are safer than bluetooth?

        A hardware based fob with rolling codes synced between the car and the fob? Sure I think that is more secure than a software based Bluetooth approach. Also, my fob battery has lasted over two years, my phone frequently runs out of power before the end of the day. My fob has a backup hardware key "just in case". My phone does not.

  • by Geeky ( 90998 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @04:49PM (#51794987)

    I'm not sure how this is more convenient for the main user... compare "get keys out of pocket, click button, put keys in ignition" to "get phone out of pocket, unlock phone, open app, press button on app"... OK, it's one less thing to carry, but then you'd probably end up carrying the keys anyway as backup in case your phone died or the app crashed.

    I've been experimenting with home automation. While having lights come on automatically via various rules is nice, it's a pain to go into the app to turn them on and off manually when you need to - easier to get up, walk across the room and flick a switch. This feels similar - a solution in search of a problem

    • by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @04:54PM (#51795029)

      I'm not giving the Valet my smartphone.

    • by twotacocombo ( 1529393 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @04:56PM (#51795045)

      I'm not sure how this is more convenient for the main user... compare "get keys out of pocket, click button, put keys in ignition"

      Not even that. I have keyless entry/start on my car. My key fob always stays in my pocket, I just push a button on the handle to open, and another on the dash to start. The battery runs out maybe once every 2 years. I've never once wished it could be "easier" by bringing a phone into the mix.

      • by Geeky ( 90998 )

        Yeah, I hadn't thought about keyless entry (don't have that on my car!), even less need for this.

        The only case I can think of is if you want to leave your car somewhere for someone else to pick up later, or to borrow it from your drive when you're not home. You could grant access without having to leave the keys hidden somewhere. It's such an edge case, though, that I can't see it'd be a big selling point.

      • I've never once wished it could be "easier" by bringing a phone into the mix.

        Try a remote start on a cold winter day from the comfort of your bed or as you prepare to leave the office. Car is warm and ready to go. It's pretty nice.

      • Yeah there is just one problem with your current keyless entry system: Mazda charges over $400 for each replacement key! I'm pretty sure I can buy a cell phone for less than that!
        • Same with Nissan, about $300 for a new fob and required programming. They have it locked out so that you have to do it at a dealer. It is on my list of things to avoid for the next car we buy.

          List:
          Comfy back seats that fit a 6' passenger (3 year old is rather tall for his age, and the next car will likely be in use through high school)
          Real knobs with proper detents for the climate control
          Properly padded driver's arm rest so my elbow doesn't get sore sitting on hard plastic
          No 2G/3G/4G anything, or at least

      • The idea is that you already have a phone. So you are not adding a phone. You are using a phone you already have and *not* adding a key fob to the mix. If you lose or break your phone you need to shell out $400 but at least you end up with a new phone. If you lose or break your keyfob, you need to spend roughly the same amount or more, and all you end up with is a new key fob.
    • by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @04:56PM (#51795049)

      Precisely. Just because there's an App for that, doesn't mean that it is easier, or better. Just make the key fob small and inexpensive to replace (and give me more than 2 when I buy the car!). I want less electronics in my future cars. The engine and frame vastly outlive infotainment system and other connected crap they are shoveling into these cars.

      Please get rid of:
      XM radio that I have to cycle through 3 selections of to get back to FM.
      Climate settings that are only displayed on the LCD, and often not displayed unless I am in the right mode.
      2G, 3G, or 4G anything. I want to drive. I can login when I get there.
      Anything with sub-menus. I'm trying to drive, KISS.
      Ability to order a pizza. Recently saw this touted as a feature, WTF?

      • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @05:35PM (#51795367)
        You forgot: Touchscreens in automobiles in general. Why doesn't the department of transportation ban control devices that by definition you have to look away from the road in front of you to use? With mechanical buttons, you could usually tell which button you were pressing by sense of touch without looking. With a touchscreen, you almost always have to look. They do have touchscreens now that can provide braille-like 3D markings on the screen, but I haven't seen any car company adopt those touchscreens yet, probably due to the high price.
    • I went the simpler route on home automation: Got a cheap RF keyfob-remote and receiver and installed it in the loft. Now I can turn the bedroom light on and off without getting out of bed. I even did some stuff with relay logic so the light switch still works too.

      The thing looks like a fire hazard still, I really need to get a proper enclosure for it.

    • by dAzED1 ( 33635 )
      why would you get keys out of your pocket? Fobs for years have not needed that. Hell, even my harley doesn't need it. Just be near the car, you can unlock the door. Be in the car, you can start the car with a button push. Fob stays in your pocket/purse/backpack/whatnot.
  • 2016 Jeep, the app on my phone will start the car and unlock the doors - all via wifi connection. Bluetooth unlocks the doors as I approach and touch the door handle (driver or passenger side).
  • combination lock (Score:4, Informative)

    by holophrastic ( 221104 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @04:55PM (#51795039)

    We had keys specifically so that a physical device is required. That's a security feature. Otherwise, a combination lock would let anyone with knowledge of the combination to enter -- which could easily be sent by text message.

    I don't lend my car to random people, on a whim, without them having a key already. Sorry, that's not a thing.

    And, again, I don't need remote access to my car, any more than I needed remote access to my VCR's eject button.

    • by tomkost ( 944194 )
      maybe you do not lend your car, but A - others might, and B - you currently can't which isn't a good predictor of what you may want or others may want to do in the future. as i said in my other post, it's terrible as a replacement for key or fob, but an interesting companion feature.
      • Actually, I think not being capable of lending my car to someone without meeting them is a great and wonderful thing. I also think not being able to open my car from more than three feet away is a wonderful thing. I'm also certain that, like with most new technologies, marketing will make people want something that they never wanted before.

        Right now, I don't have a problem, and I don't have a complaint. That means there's nothing to solve and nothing to address. We're not talking about a core-feature of

        • by tomkost ( 944194 )
          totally agree it's not a core feature, just an accessory. it's certainly not a replacement for a key or fob as I said. but I see you're thinking now about how it might be used. cool. My main way of thinking is that locks and keys and so forth are there to keep honest people honest. They don't really stop the determined criminal so that's not what they are really for in the end.
          • True. I've always said that we aren't going to be able to stop Ethan Hunt.

            However, along the way, we've shifted from "honest persons" to "honest publics". I think that's the new problem. One honest person standing in-front of me won't stab me in my pace-maker (if I were to have one). But in a stadium of 75'000 screaming fans, will one 14 year-old hack into my pace-maker from 100 yards away and turn it off?

            Imagine being able to assassinate the president by turning off his pace maker. Without a trace. W

    • Ah yes, the infamous VCR eject button on the remote, such a curious thing.
      • See, that's a feature that we never had -- the actualy EJECT. I always wanted the tape to eject across the room -- propelling the tape at least 15 feet. That would have been awesome!

        Especially in the DVD days, (or CD even) where it could have frisbee'd the disc across the room to the couch, and where we could have horse-shoe'd it from the couch into the tray!

    • If anything, physical keys are less secure than electronic keys. Physical keys can be copied. Electronic security, if done properly is, is much more work to replicate using a machine at home depot.

      Look at the fight between Apple and the FBI. The iphone arguably doesn't even have good security, and look at how hard it is for the FBI to unlock the San Bernadino shooter's phone. If the information was in a physical safe, the FBI would have gotten into the safe within hours.

      • I'll use your example against you, if you don't mind.

        If the information were in a physical safe, the FBI would have gotten into the safe within hours. Let's say within three hours. Then, when they want my phone, that's another three hours. Then, when they want your phone, that's another three hours. That's three hours for each and every phone. That's a few million hours for all iphones.

        But it's not in a physical safe. It's in the iphone. Now, eventually, the FBI will get into the iphone, and get ever

      • "Electronic security, if done properly"

        It is safer to bet it will be badly implemented and unsupported after the fact. So far that is the track record for most electronic devices.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @04:57PM (#51795051)

    ....two weeks ago at the Apple store (iSight camera replacement).

    It was like 2-3 hour turnaround, and I left my phone at the store and drove home and then drove back later when it was finished.

    I think this is a pretty stupid concept unless it's totally supplementary/optional to having a fob of some sort. My existing Volvo keyless drive fob has an actual key that can be pulled out. I only ever use it to activate the valet lock (locks the glove box and trunk), but if I recall what they told me when I picked it up it can also unlock the driver's door and somehow allow you to start the car, too.

    I like the keyless drive setup and can't begin to see how a smartphone app would be more convenient than either a pushbutton fob or even analog keys. The last thing I want to do in -20F is fuck around with my phone and ungloved hand to unlock the damn car.

  • This goes right up there dangerous ideas like Amazon using a Selfie as a password. Just steal your phone, and bonus...in addition to getting all the data from that phone (who encrypts there phone properly, I ask you...), you'll get their car as well. (Besides doesn't the government claim to having a potential way of bypassing the encryption they were trying to force Apple to break?).
    • Hacking even poorly done security systems is a lot more effort than stealing physical keys. That said, well done electronic security is *way* more secure than having a specifically shaped piece of metal be an authentication system.
  • What's wrong with carrying a key fob? So if someone steals my phone they also, by extension, steal my car? Sorry...I'm not willing to put that on a device (phone) that is often stolen and frequently hacked.

    • So what security precautions do you take to ensure no one can steal your car keys? Sure some phones can be hacked. Keys don't even need to be hacked in order to use them.
  • by LostMyBeaver ( 1226054 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @05:08PM (#51795127)
    I give it about 2.5 hours before it's cracked the first time.

    Tesla, a company with roots in technology and computers sucks at security. Microsoft, Google, Apple and slews of others (including the overwhelming Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, etc... community) could not on the best day make Bluetooth secure. I'm buying a BMW i3 right now which is extremely smart phone friendly and already know that simply because it's made by BMW it's an open hack fest since BMW is great at making things like drive trains and leather seats, when it comes to anything electronic, they're idiots.

    So, here comes the infamous Volvo... a company who specializes in making automotive dinosaurs and they're going to make technology like this?

    I believe Amy (Big Bang Theory) explained Volvo best when she made the statement "She was the only girl who would pass out drunk at wild college parties and wake up with more clothes on". That's Volvo in a nut shell... they could sell cars without any locks or security and people still wouldn't steal them.
    • Bluetooth is just a way of transmitting data. It doesn't need to be secure. You can send encrypted data over any channel securely. Furthermore, with existing public key cryptography, the private key never leaves the device anyway.
  • by tomkost ( 944194 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @05:12PM (#51795165)
    For reasons others mentioned (dead battery, etc) it's likely not a total replacement for a key or fob. However, it could be a great extension or companion to a key or fob. E.G. if you lost your fob, or you want to grant access to a friend, to either drive the car, or retrieve items from the car, that part is cool. Even if the bluetooth raises a security concern (and I doubt current key fobs are much if any better), at least with a smart phone app there is the possibility to update the app and fix security issues unlike key fobs.
  • by saigon_from_europe ( 741782 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @05:19PM (#51795223)

    What's the point of remote access to any device that is useful only if you are physically present near it?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...you insensitive clod.

    No, seriously. I don't have a phone. If I did have a phone, I wouldn't carry it everywhere. This is the opposite of useful.

  • and if a rent a car place does this you may be on the hook for buying them a new car if it is stolen.

  • Motor Trend would be disappointed [motortrend.com]. They dedicated 3 paragraphs of SUV of the year to the Volvo key fob...
  • Ripe for abuse (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jimbob The Mighty ( 1282418 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @05:32PM (#51795337)
    So, if you want to really screw over your work colleague, swiping his phone and entering his password wrong now won't only wipe his phone (assuming IT have that feature implemented), it will also maroon him.

    Good job, Volvo.

  • NO. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kuzb ( 724081 ) on Monday March 28, 2016 @05:44PM (#51795415)

    Seriously, why does every damn thing now need to be controlled by a cellphone? It makes zero sense to network the security of your car.

  • I've got that already:
    "Nope."

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