It will become possible to use an Android smartphone as a car key, to open and lock the door, but also to start a vehicle. Google has started rolling out this feature, which unfortunately will only be of use to a very small handful of users.
Google has started rolling out the ‘digital key car’ feature for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, as well as for Samsung’s Galaxy S21. Only compatible 2020 to 2022 BMW vehicles are currently affected, which greatly reduces the appeal of this novelty, even if other manufacturers will participate in this program in the more or less long term (Hyundai has announced its rally recently).
Not a lot of compatible cars
The user manual is based on NFC. You have to tap (gently!) The smartphone on the door to activate the digital key. Google plans to take advantage of the Pixel 6 Pro’s built-in ultra-wideband (UWB) localization chip to improve the terminal’s accuracy and “spatial orientation” relative to the car. But for the moment, we will have to do without.
This function was presented by the search engine during the Google I / O developer event in the spring. BMW is the benchmark manufacturer in this nascent digital key market. The German giant is also a partner of Apple for a similar function available on recent iPhones and the Apple Watch. In both cases, it is a question of making life easier for motorists since this virtual key can also be shared with third parties, to lend a car for example.
The technical specifications for this function are established by the Car Connectivity Consortium, which has a representative from Google and another from Apple on its board of directors. Many car manufacturers are also part of it.