Tesla updates iPhone app to boost precision tracking and security akin to Apple AirTag tech

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Tesla has rolled out a significant update to its iPhone app, introducing ultra-wideband (UWB) support in version 2024.2.3. This enhancement, highlighted by Not a Tesla App, brings a more robust and secure digital key experience compared to Bluetooth technology. UWB’s precision tracking enables the car to pinpoint the exact location of the key, minimising the risk of replay spoofing attacks.

What are replay spoofing attacks?

Replay spoofing attacks involve cybercriminals intercepting secure network communications, then fraudulently delaying or resending them to misdirect receivers. Spoofing entails pretending to be something else to gain trust or access, steal data, or spread malware.

Improved Precision and Security

The implementation of UWB extends beyond mere security measures. It enables the car to discern which user is approaching the driver’s side, particularly useful in scenarios where multiple individuals with phone keys are accessing the vehicle simultaneously. This level of precision tracking is akin to the technology behind Apple AirTags, ensuring accurate locating even in challenging environments, The Verge reported.

Although currently exclusive to iPhones, this advancement hints at a potential expansion to Android devices, especially considering recent models like Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy phones incorporating UWB chips.

Upon updating to the latest version, users will be prompted to “Upgrade Your Phone Key,” granting the app access to Nearby Interactions via the iPhone’s U1 chip. This setting can be located under Settings > Privacy & Security > Nearby Interactions.

Vehicle Compatibility and Future Integration

Notably, only the newest Model 3 and 2023 Model X currently support this feature, with the promise of future integration into newer Model X, Model S, and Cybertruck variants. Compatibility extends to iPhones from the iPhone 11 series onward, excluding SE models.

Additionally, Tesla’s latest software update introduces Ultra Wideband support to enhance the functionality of the built-in Phone Key feature. This allows Tesla owners to conveniently lock and unlock their vehicles using their iPhones, eliminating the need for a physical key.

With UWB technology, the Phone Key feature gains improved precision, ensuring timely recognition of the iPhone’s proximity to the vehicle for seamless locking and unlocking. The release notes emphasise the enhanced responsiveness of Automatic Doors with UWB:

“Ultra wideband (UWB) technology is now available for Phone Key. So your vehicle and Phone Key can communicate with greater accuracy to more responsively lock, unlock, and open Automatic Doors.”

To leverage these advancements, Tesla owners must possess both a vehicle compatible with Ultra Wideband and an iPhone equipped with the technology. Activating the updated UWB key involves accessing the Phone Key section of the Tesla app, which must be updated to version 4.29.5, and following the upgrade steps provided.

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