Samsung to bring digital car keys to its phones

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SEOUL — After announcing plans for digital car keys in its phones during the Galaxy S21 launch, South Korean tech conglomerate Samsung has finally started to add support for the feature.

According to The Verge, Samsung says support for the ultra-wideband (UWB) and NFC-enabled digital car keys will hit South Korea first, and it will only work with one car to start, the all-electric Genesis GV60.

On devices that support UWB, which are the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus and Ultra, Note 20 Ultra, and Galaxy Z Fold 2 and 3, Samsung has promised “passive entry,” meaning you can unlock and lock your car without pulling your phone out of your bag or pocket.

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With your phone nearby, you’ll also be able to start your car and make adjustments to mirrors, seats, and more.

The digital keys will be stored in Samsung Pass and protected by an “embedded Secure Element (eSE)” and, according to Samsung, can be shared with anyone running Android 11 with its app downloaded.

This amounts to accessing one type of car in one region right now, but Samsung has partnerships with Audi, BMW, and Ford. Hopefully, those carmakers will add support soon now that Genesis has broken the seal. Also, since Samsung supports NFC for keys, older Galaxy phones running Android 11 should be able to get into the fun.

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As per The Verge, Samsung now uses UWB and NFC for two headlining features on its phones, digital car keys and finding items with the Galaxy SmartTag it announced in January. That brings it in parallel with Apple, which introduced digital car keys enabled by the U1 chip alongside iOS 14.

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