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Can't unlock your car? A charging Apple Pencil might be to blame

Apple last week updated an Apple Pencil support document with a note warning users that charging a second-generation version of the stylus on a compatible iPad Pro might interfere with signals from nearby key fobs, preventing users from opening their car door.




According to a support document detailing how to "Use Apple Pencil with your iPad or iPad Pro," the problem is restricted to second-generation Apple Pencil models charging inductively on a third-generation iPad Pro.

"If you're charging your Apple Pencil (2nd generation) with your iPad Pro and your car's keyless entry device (key fob) is nearby, signal interference might prevent you from unlocking your car with your key fob," Apple notes.

The company suggests moving iPad Pro away from the key fob or removing Apple Pencil from an attached iPad Pro to rectify the issue.

Inductive charging systems like those employed by Apple to charge Apple Watch and Apple Pencil, as well as wireless charging standards including Qi, rely on electromagnetic fields to provide power to electronic devices. Depending on its configuration, an inductive technology can in some cases cause interference with low-power radio signals.

Though Apple does not specify a particular automotive entry system, mentioning only a "keyless entry device," it is likely that the company is referring to so-called "smart keys." These key fobs are designed as transponders, or passive remote systems, that allow users to unlock their car door simply by walking within range of onboard antennas. Due to their design as short-range radio solutions, generated signals from smart keys are more susceptible to electromagnetic interference.

Apple notes that any potential signal interference will stop once Pencil is fully charged, meaning the problem is caused by the company's first-party inductive charging technology.

The webpage update was spotted by French website iGeneration on Monday.

Apple released the second-generation Apple Pencil as a follow-up to the original model late last year. Unlike the first version's awkward charging method, which requires users to stick the device into an iPad's Lightning port, the latest iteration magnetically attaches to a inductive charging anchor point on the side of a compatible iPad Pro.