Windows & Other OS

What is Car Key on Android and how does it work?

Joe Fedewa

Android phones do much more than just make phone calls. Are cameras , gps navigators , Credit cards and much more . What if it could also be your car key? That’s exactly what Android 12’s “Car Key” feature does.

What is Android Car Key?

As the name implies, the Car Key feature literally allows your Android smartphone to act as your car key. You can lock, unlock, and even start your car with your phone.

The concept is very similar to that of mobile payment services. For example, Google Pay allows you to use your phone as a credit card. Just tap it on the card reader and you can pay without digging through your wallet.

Android Car Key function is not a unique idea, in fact, Apple is working on its own version for iPhones and Apple Watches. Both Google and Apple are part of the ‘Car Connectivity Consortium’, which created a digital key standard .

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How does it work?

Android Car Key application.
Google

Android’s Car Key feature takes advantage of a couple of different technologies. The first is the technology of ultra wide band (UWB) . This is something that has been slowly added to smartphones throughout the year, for example with the iPhone 11 in 2019.

Ultra-wideband is similar to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in that it is a wireless protocol that uses radio waves. UWB uses these radio waves to detect when other objects, such as your vehicle, are in physical proximity. It is the same technology used in Apple AirTags .

The other technology at stake is Near Field Communication (NFC) , an old standard that has been in phones for a long time. This is another technology that relates to being physically close to objects. Allows you to touch the car door with the phone to unlock it.

What phones and cars will receive it?

Unfortunately, due to the technologies used for the Car Key feature, it will not be available to everyone, at least not immediately. Google is working with BMW and “others” to bring the feature to upcoming cars.

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On the phone side, you’ll need a state-of-the-art Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy phone that supports UWB and NFC. Google announced Car Key function in May 2021 and said it would be available “later this year.”

This is an exciting new use for smartphones as a whole. Car companies like Tesla and Audi have their own versions of this feature, but a standardized method built into iPhone and Android devices makes it much easier for everyone.

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