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Google hints UWB is coming to future Pixel phones

Your Pixel 6 could double as a car key.

Published onMay 18, 2021

Google Pixel 5 in hand sunset back 1
David Imel / Android Authority
  • Google has hinted that it’s adding ultra wideband technology to future Pixel phones.
  • The UWB functionality should let you use your Pixel as a digital car key.
  • You can also expect widened Fast Pair support for Beats headphones as well as BMW and Ford cars.

Your next Pixel phone may soon pack the same kind of ultra wideband technology you’ve seen in recent Samsung phones and iPhones. Google has used its I/O conference to hint that UWB support will be coming to “select” upcoming Pixel phones (not shown here) this fall to enable the digital car key functionality in Android 12.

The UWB technology should let you lock and unlock your car without even reaching for the Pixel phone in your pocket. If a car supports NFC, you’ll also have the option to unlock your car by tapping the door. Android 12’s functionality will also let you share your digital key with friends and family if they need to borrow your ride — important in an era of reduced car ownership where you may end up sharing a vehicle.

google pixel uwb digital car key

Google didn’t say which of its phones would have UWB support, although rumors have suggested the Pixel 6 will be the company’s first handset to use the technology. The new model is potentially a return to flagship-class smartphones at Google, and it would only make sense to adopt the same UWB tech found in high-end devices like the Galaxy S21 Plus, S21 Ultra, and iPhone 12.

It also won’t be surprising if Pixel phones can use UWB for other functionality, such as AirTag-style item trackers with very precise directions.

You won’t necessarily need to buy a new phone to take advantage of some of Google’s latest additions. It’s expanding Android’s Fast Pair to more Bluetooth devices in the months ahead, including Beats headphones as well as BMW and Ford cars. The Beats addition is particularly important — you’ve previously needed to install the Beats app to enable quick pairing on Android. This could give you simple setup comparable to what Apple has enabled on iPhones for AirPods and Beats audio for years.

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