Google I/O 2021 kicked off with a ton of information and announcements, and among these was some new information about Android Auto and Android Automotive OS.
For starters, Android Auto is now available in more than 100 million cars, supported by nearly every major manufacturer with Porsche being the latest. Even better, brands such as GM, Ford, Honda, and more will support Android Auto wireless. No more having to lug a cord around like some caveman when you want to use Android Auto in your car.
Of course, you’re still going to have to pair your phone up to your car, and that in itself can be more of a pain than using a cord. Thankfully, car manufacturer’s like BMW and Ford are both working on adding Fast Pair to its vehicles. Much like with headphones, Fast Pair will make it quick and relatively painless to connect your phone to your car with a prompt that walks you through the process.
Now that you have an easy way to get Android Auto on your car with Fast Pairing, what could make it even better? How about unlocking or starting your car up with your phone using a digital car key? That’s what Google is working on for Android 12 using Ultra-Wideband technology that will allow you to get into your car and start it up without even touching it. There will also be a version that uses NFC for cars that support it that will require you to tap the phone to the door handle, not quite as cool, but I’ll take it.
That’s not all though, using this technology you’ll also be able to securely share your digital car key with friends and family if they need to use your car.
Don’t get too excited just yet though. Currently, Google says it’s working with car manufacturers to make this a reality, but the only one it mentions by name is BMW. Plus, so far, it looks like digital car keys will only become available later this year on select Pixel and Samsung Galaxy phones.
Furthermore, Android Automotive OS, the standalone car infotainment system, has been making more strides in getting itself into some new cars. The latest are the Polestar 2, Volvo XC40 Recharge, and the Volvo XC60. Additionally, by the end of 2021, it will be available in “more than 10 car models from Volvo, General Motors and Renault.”
Google also showed off Android Auto projecting onto the display of a BMW iX and running Android Automotive OS on the all-electric GMC Hummer EV.