You can now automatically unlock your car using your Android phone. Here’s how.

You can now automatically unlock your car using your Android phone. Here’s how.

The Android digital vehicle key function, which Google debuted with Android 12 in 2021, allows Android users to unlock and start their cars with their phones. As the automobile industry develops, this technology is anticipated to become increasingly commonplace, particularly with the emergence of electric cars (EVs), whose owners frequently seek cutting-edge technological features.

How It Works

The Android digital car key relies on two key technologies in modern smartphones: near-field communications (NFC) and ultra-wideband (UWB). NFC is widely used for contactless payments through Google Wallet, while UWB is mostly found in higher-end Google and Samsung devices, aiding in quick file transfers and now in car key functionality.

To use this feature, a digital key is generated for Google Wallet or Samsung Wallet via an automaker’s app, an email link, or a vehicle’s head unit. NFC-based keys require you to swipe your phone near a reader embedded in the car, such as in the door handle or ignition system. UWB, with its slightly longer range, enables “passive entry,” allowing the car to unlock when you approach, start when you get in, and lock when you walk away.

For security, you can disable passive entry or require your phone to be unlocked for the key to work. You might need to unlock your phone to enter the car, but not to start it once inside.

Remote controls for locking, unlocking, triggering the alarm, or opening the trunk are also available, depending on your car model. These functions use Bluetooth, so you can’t control your car from far distances.

Compatibility

Compatible Android Phones:

  • All Google Pixel phones from the Pixel 6 onwards, including Fold models.
  • Many Samsung S- and Z-series phones, from the Galaxy S21+ onwards, are typically set up in Samsung Wallet.
  • Other select devices running Android 12 or later. Check your phone’s manufacturer’s website for specifics.

Compatible Vehicles: Cars need specific wireless chips and software to support Android-based keys. Check your vehicle’s manufacturer’s website for compatibility. Some confirmed brands include:

  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Ford
  • Genesis
  • Hyundai
  • Tesla
  • Volkswagen
  • And many more…

FAQ

Q: Can I use the Android digital car key if my phone’s battery dies? A: In some cases, yes. NFC may continue to work “for a few hours” after your phone’s battery dies, but this isn’t guaranteed, especially if your key requires phone unlock.

Q: Can I share an Android digital car key? A: Yes, you can share the key via Google Wallet. Sharing can be done directly with contacts or through third-party apps and may require an activation code, a physical key, or interaction with the car’s dashboard. However, this feature is limited to certain cars, markets, and phones, so check with your automaker for details.

The Android digital car key is a cutting-edge convenience that brings added ease and functionality to car ownership, aligning with the high-tech expectations of modern and future drivers.

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