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Although Apple released Digital Keys ahead of schedule in iOS 15.0, it was virtually impossible to actually do anything with the feature. The underlying code may have all been there, but without any support from digital locks, it’s like having a keyring with no actual keys on it.
Other than Car Key, which has been around since iOS 13.6, there were simply no accessories or organizations taking advantage of the new Digital Key technology introduced in IOS 15.
In fact, this was true even with Car Key, which was enhanced with Ultra-Wideband support for the previously NFC-only standard. At the time of iOS 15’s release, no vehicles on the market could take advantage of the UWB Car Key, and even today, it’s only available exclusively in the 2022 BMW iX, which isn’t expected to hit showrooms until early next year.
Beyond Car Key, however, iOS 15 promises to offer digital keys in Apple Wallet for your home, your office, and even hotel rooms, but it’s been a slow rollout. No personal home locks are available just yet, and it’s unclear if any businesses are using iOS 15 Digital Keys for internal security yet.
When it comes to hotel keys, however, Apple announced in June that Hyatt Hotels was slated to bring the technology to over 1,000 of its properties worldwide, and it’s finally begun rolling it out — slowly.
According to a recent press release, Hyatt is now rolling out room keys in Apple Wallet across six of its hotels in Hawaii, Florida, Illinois, Texas, and California.
- Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort
- Hyatt Centric Key West Resort & Spa
- Hyatt House Chicago/West Loop-Fulton Market
- Hyatt House Dallas/Richardson
- Hyatt Place Fremont/Silicon Valley
- Hyatt Regency Long Beach
While this falls well short of the promised thousand properties, Hyatt notes it’s just a start, adding that “this technology is expected to be rolled out across Hyatt’s global portfolio.” However, it doesn’t say when this is expected to actually happen.
How It Works
The idea of putting your hotel room key on your iPhone or Apple Watch isn’t an entirely new idea. Starwood Hotels famously developed an Apple Watch app six years ago that did many of the same things. However, the key difference in Starwood’s case is that it was an entirely custom solution, and as a result, the idea never really took off.
With iOS 15, however, the Digital Key technology is part of the underlying operating system. This makes it a standard that will be far easier for hotels to adopt, and hopefully, many more will see the appeal of this idea.
It’s also easier for users since Apple’s Digital Hotel Keys can be quickly pulled up from the Wallet app on either an iPhone or Apple Watch. Plus, with Express Mode, you don’t even need to unlock your device. Simply waving your wrist in front of your hotel room door is much easier than finding and opening a specific app, or worse, having to pull out your iPhone and unlock it when the hotel chain doesn’t offer a watchOS version of its app.
As for Hyatt Hotels, the new Digital Keys will offer a seamless self-serve process of checking in, checking out, changing rooms, or even extending stays.
For instance, when booking a stay at a Hyatt Hotel, you’ll be able to add your digital room key to Apple Wallet as soon as your reservation is complete. The key won’t be active, of course, until it’s time to actually check into your room, but it will be there waiting for your arrival date.
In fact, Hyatt says it will even update to let you know when it’s time to check-in and be automatically updated to include your room number. You’ll be able to head directly to your assigned room, tap your iPhone or Apple Watch on the door lock, and walk right in.
Hyatt Hotel staff will also be able to update the digital room key remotely, so guests can extend their stay or change rooms without needing to take a trip to the front desk. Once a guest checks out, their room key is automatically deactivated and archived in Apple Wallet, much like how this works for expired tickets and boarding passes.
The Digital Keys in Apple Wallet can also be used anywhere else on a Hyatt Hotel property that would normally require a room key, such as gyms, pools, and elevators, and Express Mode ensures that you’ll be able to access your room even if your iPhone or Apple Watch battery has gone dead after a long day out on the town.