Remember when Google announced that starting with Android 12 you will be able to unlock select vehicles with your phone, provided that you have a Google or Samsung phone? If your memory is a bit hazy, yes, Digital Car Keys are a reality that's coming very soon to a compatible phone near you. Provided that you're driving a newer BMW model, as this is the largest car manufacturer to support digital car unlocking as of now.
Initially announced in May at Google I/O 2021 alongside Android 12
, Digital Car Keys was hardly heard of ever since, but a recent update to the Google Play Services framework indicates that the feature is certainly primed and ready for an official release alongside Android 12 Snow Cone
's launch next week.
XDA has discovered that an update to the Google Play Services framework has brought the necessary code prerequisites for the car unlocking functionality. Multiple lines of code are referring to NFC and ultra-wide band use for vehicle unlocking. Thanks to UWB, you will be able to unlock your car from up to 100 feet away. Google worked with car manufacturers to include this functionality and make car unlock supported from a distance, similar to your key fob. While few phones support UWB, NFC is a much more prevalent hardware requirement for Digital Car Keys, though it will require you to tap a specific spot on the vehicle's door with your device.
And guess what, Google's upcoming top flagship, the Pixel 6 Pro
, will most likely support UWB, making it the perfect vessel to showcase Digital Car Keys. Indeed, the Pixel
6 lineup is coming very soon, and the blogosphere is buzzing with interesting tidbits about Google's next heavy-hitters almost every day.
Initially, the Digital Car Keys feature will be limited to certain regions for Google to test the waters, and you will have to install a digital car key service as well as have a password-protected screen lock with the credentials stored in Google Pay in particular.
Apple has supported car unlock for a while now. You can unlock your compatible vehicle with an iPhone XS
or newer and an Apple Watch
5 or newer. Samsung is also in the mix, as owners of the new Genesis GV60 in South Korea can use their Galaxy S21
devices to lock/unlock the car, start up the vehicle, and sound the horn. Hopefully, the Digital Car Keys feature of Android will grow to be as prevalent and widely supported as Apple's iteration.