Model 3

Phone Key doesn't work without App running?!?!?!?



  • edited July 10
    Just throwing in another datapoint: I've had my Model 3 since May, 2018. I have only ever used it with a couple of different flavors of iPhone, so I can't speak to the Android experience. In 2 years, I've had trouble with the phone as key maybe 5 times. This is without the app running in the foreground or background. I can turn the phone off, turn it back on, never touch the Tesla app, and it still lets me in the car.
  • edited July 10
    At the risk of repeating a post I made June 1, I will say I still have been unable to figure out why my iPhone ALWAYS unlocks the doors whether the Tesla app is running or not, and my wife's identical model iPhone NEVER unlocks the doors unless the app is running. Both phones have the same Tesla app settings (location always on, background app refresh on).
    I notice that my iPhone's bluetooth connection with the 18-digit alpha-numeric string that is the car persists when I force close the app on my phone but it disappears from my wife's phone when she force closes the app.
    This discrepancy in behavior between the two phones has never been satisfactorily explained, despite the definitive statements that some people have posted in this thread.
  • edited July 10
    hokiegir1, Sorry about your Toyota issues. Fob batteries for us typically last several years. It gives plenty of warning, so if I am not due a service it only takes a couple of minutes to swap out the battery.
  • edited July 12
    @howard - Yeah...I had mine for 5 years and had to replace the battery twice. Like I said...about as many issues as I've had with my phone key. ;)
  • > @EVRider said:
    > @gary: Calm down. It has always been necessary to have the app running in the background (or foreground) for the phone key to work. If you thought otherwise you were mistaken. The app doesn't have to be connected to the car via the internet for phone key to work, so it doesn't matter if there's no internet connection.

    Dude, you are wrong and don’t be rude to the guy if you don’t know what you are talking about. I took possession of my M3 in 2017 and I have NEVER had to have the app running in foreground or background. It is A BLOOTOOTH KEYFOB buddy not an app that enables car entry. The Bluetooth would connect to a series of nonsensical names connections with the car and that was the fob.

    So you ARE wrong @EVRider. Tesla confirmed this.
  • Here is the issue and the fix.

    1. Open Tesla App
    2. Go to Settings, Bluetooth,
    Verify 18 Alpha Numeric Number
    Is connected.
    3. Close Tesla App and you will see big number disappear under Bluetooth.

    With the phone in this state the remote phone key will not work!

    Now for the fix, just put your phone into standby and then wake your phone back up! Now look under Bluetooth and you will see big number is back. Now your phone will work as the key even without opening up the Tesla App.

    Any time you force the App closed, The key will not work until you put The phone into standby and then wake it up again, then all is good until you force the app closed again. iOS 13.7 MY 2020.36.4
  • My experience is that app must be running in the background for the phone to work as a key.
  • Then your experience varies from others.
  • Nope. wayne47's experience is the same as my wife's. Her iPhone NEVER works unless the app is running in the background, and my iPhone ALWAYS works regardless of whether the app is running in the background or not. Identical iPhones, identical settings.
  • That’s very strange, isn’t it. I can’t explain it.
  • Joules- I didn’t mean all others. Your situation is a perfect example. Although you believe your iPhone settings are identical to your wife’s, they clearly aren’t. You hold the key to this mystery.

    Have you ever had your phone ask you out of the blue whether you want to allow an app to continue doing something in the background. Any chance you said yes and your wife said no without reading the message?
  • Um. Let's be a bit clear about this. I've got an Android S8. Opened up the Tesla app, logged on, closed the Tesla app.
    Phone key works.
    Open up the Tesla app, logged off, closed the Tesla app.
    Phone key does not work.
    Point: Like many other apps on a phone, some apps are active when "closed".
    In fact, in Settings->Apps->Tesla->Battery, there's a setting for "Allow background activity". It's set to On.
    I'll freely admit that the car and the phone communicate with Bluetooth; very, very likely that the car has the Bluetooth MAC address memorized for an authorized phone. But there are such things as MAC address spoofing. I would strongly suspect that there are, at minimum, encryption keys present on both the phone and the car with random variations over time, otherwise any random hacker with the right kind of gear could drive the car away.
    Point is: When the car communicates with the phone to authenticate, it does so whether or not the app is in the foreground or background. And "background" means "closed".
    Dunno about iPhones, but I'd be highly surprised if the equivalent of "Allow background activity" was not also present.
    Couple of minor things. On Android, one can rig the Tesla app to put up a notification icon at the top of the screen. The advantage of having it there is that when one swipes down, it's a single step to open the frunk/trunk/doors, and less of a hassle then opening the app and waiting for it to connect to the car.
    Note that there's a "close all" function in Android. Run that - and that Tesla icon is still up there, right along with the state of charge and the current temperature outside.
    Second: From time to time, my phone gets rebooted. On the reboot, after a slight delay, up comes that Tesla notification icon. That means that the app is getting automatically launched by the Android OS. Again, I'd be surprised if iOS doesn't do the same thing.
  • Phone key behavior has changed with update 2020.40.3 in our MY.
    Now Tesla app MUST be running to use iphone as a key. Unlike my previous post, you will never see the big number in Bluetooth connections unless App is running. In iOS go to settings, Tesla, Location. There You can read App explanation and it seems to state that the Tesla App must be running.
  • But it can be running in the background. It’s always been that way for me.
  • As of late both my wife and I have been experiencing a ton of issues with the phone app key.I have a LR and she has an SR+. In the morning we usually always need to unlock our iPhones and open the app before we can open a door or disconnect from our home chargers. Never used to be like this.
  • Tesla sells a FOB that works 100% of the time. You can still leave your phone as a key. They coexist without issue so use whichever is handy.
    If it’s raining, I do make sure the FOB is in my pocket...:)
  • > @guydude said:
    > As of late both my wife and I have been experiencing a ton of issues with the phone app key.I have a LR and she has an SR+. In the morning we usually always need to unlock our iPhones and open the app before we can open a door or disconnect from our home chargers. Never used to be like this.

    I suspect this is some Bluetooth security fix. Same thing happened to me immediately after AT&T pushed an update to my android. I enabled several background features on the phone for the Tesla app after the AT&T update and it improved it 95% but its still not 100%. AT&T just pushed another update to my phone but I haven't had time for properly test it.
  • Isnt the Tesla app always running unless you close it for some strange reason? Just open it and leave it open and you wont have the problem I guess? Basically let the phone decide what apps close etc.
  • Multi Tesla homes-

    First- On your iPhone, go to settings find the Tesla App and make sure *everything* is turned on.

    Second- make sure that the car you want to unlock by walking up to it is the car showing when you select the Tesla app.

    That is all there is to it. If you are having issues with those settings then something else is amiss.

    While you’re at it- in the car set your profile to your phone.

    If you walk up to the other car and it won’t unlock then open the app, swipe to the car you’re trying to unlock and you should be in.

    Phone key seems to work with BT only, which is nice in that if you’re out of cell network range or the servers are down it will still get you in (this happened recently for me which was good, I didn’t have my keycard!).

    This may also interest most people- ONE keycard can be programmed to open multiple cars. No need to carry two when you have two cars.

    I’m sure this all has been mentioned before, but since this thread continues it bears repeating :)
  • Many apps have background "helpers." They are aways hidden. When the cell phone receives a call and the phone app is not "running", the helper automatically wakes the phone app.

    I suspect the secure helper that unlocks the Tesla via Bluetooth is such an app.
  • I wish the app could be set to autostart on boot.
  • @mknewman: I dunno about you, but the Tesla app on my Samsung S8 _does_ start on boot. That is, without my doing anything after a cold boot, the Tesla notification icon pops up in the notification bar and stays there.
    On Android, swiping down on the notification bar, then the Tesla notification icon, gets one a quick menu that unlocks the frunk, the trunk, or the doors; tapping it takes one straight to the regular app. In any case, don't need to touch any of that stuff in order to walk up to the car and grab the door handle in order to get in. Far as I can tell, that part's Bluetooth and is always running.
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