Android 12 Can Turn Your Phone Into A Digital Car Key

0
A two-door, silver BMW 650i xDrive. Side view.
BMW 650i xDrive. Image credit: Kompulsa (via the NAIAS).

Android 12 will enable users of some devices (including Google Pixels) to use their phone to unlock their cars. The technology uses Ultra-wideband radio (UWB) technology and supports Near-field Communication (NFC) so that users can tap their phone on their cars to unlock them.

Apple implemented the hardware to support this feature in iPhones and the Apple Watch Series 6 nearly a year ago, and will support the same unlock method. Both Apple and Google are on the board of the Car Connectivity Consortium, as well as LG, Samsung, BMW and other brands.

BMW will support the phone unlock technology starting with the BMW iX. As for alternatives such as Bluetooth Fast Pair, Ford and BMW will support that as well. As is the case with many new technologies, it’s likely that there will eventually be an agreement on a standard that all (or nearly all) smartphones and cars will support.

Are these wireless unlock technologies secure?

This is never an easy question to answer, as they are still under development and it would help to see a clear breakdown of how these technologies usually work. However, it is imperative that these technologies eliminate exposure of encryption keys used to protect communications between the phone and car. It’s also important that the keys or at least the unlock codes transmitted change periodically.