Today, Samsung announced the Galaxy S21 series, complete with ultra-wideband (UWB) technology to better connect to your other smart devices. The next great example of how to use the UWB on the Galaxy S21+ and S21 Ultra is to use it as a car key for your next vehicle from Ford, BMW, and others.

This morning, BMW announced that their “Digital Key Plus” experience was getting an upgrade to support the UWB technology found in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 series, allowing those phones to act as a digital car key in the next generation BMW iX. As part of that announcement, BMW shared that they were working with other automakers and tech companies to make UWB part of the universal “Digital Key” spec.

Shortly thereafter, Samsung announced their own devices with UWB with the Galaxy S21+ and S21 Ultra, and it seems these devices are already aiming to match the iPhone’s new capability as a car key. Samsung has shared that they’re working with automakers including Audi, BMW, Ford, and Genesis to ensure that future UWB-equipped vehicles from these manufacturers will support the Galaxy S21 series devices as a digital car key.

Once available — which will take some time as the new vehicles need to be produced and supporting phone software will need to be developed or updated — you’ll be able to unlock your car once your Galaxy S21+ or Ultra device is close by, in a “touchless” experience. Thankfully the base model of Galaxy S21 isn’t left out of the fun, as it will still be able to unlock your car with a touch, thanks to NFC.

Notably, Samsung is working with various industry organizations on this effort, which will ensure that everything is being done in a standardized way. What that means is that future Android devices with UWB will also be capable of being made into a key for your UWB-capable car, rather than this being a Samsung exclusive feature. Samsung is even committed to being able to easily swap a UWB digital car key from one phone to another, “regardless of brand and platform.”

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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