Starting with Android 12 and select devices from Google and Samsung, users will soon be able to unlock their car using nothing but a smartphone.
As part of its latest effort to make Android work more seamlessly with other devices, Google is bringing digital car keys to smartphones starting with Android 12. It’s nearly identical to a feature added to iPhones in iOS 14, allowing users to unlock select cars by holding their iPhone near a car’s NFC reader.
This was one of the many announcements that came out of Google I/O 2021, which saw Google unveil things like Android 12’s new design, an overhaul for Wear OS, and even something called ‘Project Starline’ that allows people to video chat using holograms. Among these things, Google also unveiled an initiative to integrate Android smartphones with other devices. Google is approaching this from a few different angles. Chromebooks, for example, will soon have instant access to photos taken with a paired Android phone. Google is also building a virtual remote for Android TV right into Android itself, making it that much easier for people to control their smart televisions.
In addition to all of that, Google also announced that digital car keys are coming to Android for the first time with Android 12. Digital car keys will support NFC just like they do on iOS 14, allowing users to place their Android phone near a car to lock and unlock it. Google is also designing its digital car keys to support UWB (Ultra Wideband) technology, which will enable Android phones to unlock a connected car without ever making contact with it. Also like digital car keys in iOS 14, Android users will be able to share virtual keys with friends and family members if they need to borrow the car for whatever reason.
Google Car Key Will Be Available Later This Year
As mentioned above, digital car keys will be added as part of the Android 12 update. That’s scheduled to launch at some point in Q3 2021, with Google noting that digital car keys will be available for “select Pixel and Samsung Galaxy phones” later this year. In addition to needing a supported phone for digital car keys to work, users will also need to make sure their car works with the feature. BMW is the only confirmed brand right now, though Google says it is working with other car manufacturers, too.
While limiting digital car keys to newer phones and cars will inherently exclude a lot of people from being able to use the feature, it’s still exciting to see Google branching out into this niche. It’ll take a while for it to transition from a luxury feature to something that’s standard across most (if not all) vehicles, but starting now instead of a couple of years down the road is a smart move.
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