Back at I/O, Google announced that Android 12 will let you unlock compatible vehicles with just your phone. Digital car key support for locking/unlocking and starting vehicles is going live for the Pixel 6 and Samsung Galaxy S21 lines from today.

At launch, you need to physically tap the door (NFC is used) to unlock. [Update: Google tells us only NFC is available at the moment.] That said, Android’s digital car keys are designed to eventually leverage Ultra-Wideband (UWB) on newer devices and cars so that the phone can stay in your pocket.

The interface for this interaction is not too different from Google Pay with a “Hold to reader” prompt and “unlocked phone to use this key” option, as well as a link to the car brand’s companion app. Keys can also be securely shared with other people.

Digital car keys are rolling out today on the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy 21 for compatible 2020 and 2022 BMW vehicles.

Meanwhile, country availability (by device) is as follows:

  • Pixel, though the 6 is not sold in all these countries: Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Cyprus, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary, Cyprus, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Canada, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, United States, Croatia, Macao, Taiwan
  • Galaxy S21: United States, Korea, Great Britain, Denmark, France, Italy, Spain

In the Pixel lineup, only the 6 Pro features an Ultra-Wideband chip, which Google touts as providing “accurate ranging and spatial orientation.” It was not “enabled at initial product release” and is still not operational.

BMW already supports the iPhone and Apple Watch, while the set-up process involves being in your car and the companion client. Google is working with other car brands to increase support.

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Abner Li

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