Android’s New Car Key Function

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Android Car Key From Phone

Your smartphone becoming your car key is inching closer to reality.  The feature lets you simply approach the car with your phone in your pocket or tap your phone to the door knob and the door will unlock. No need to carry a bulky key fob.

VOXX/Directed said it expects to have an aftermarket solution for smartphone-as-car-key in the first half of next year.

Hyundai has been advertising its version of the feature for months, and it recently added a new TV commercial for it.

And last week, Google announced select Samsung and Pixel phones will support phone-as-car-key later this year. This follows Apple’s support of the feature for the past year.

The catch for both Apple and Google is a car company must also support phone as key.  So Apple’s CarKey presently works only with  BMW models. Similarly, the only car maker mentioned by Google to support its new feature initially is BMW, reports The Verge.

Viper Smartkey eliminates car key
Viper SMARTkey eliminates car key

So there’s plenty of room for the aftermarket here.  Directed, prior to its purchase by VOXX, had planned to release a Viper SMARTkey package last summer. It was demonstrated as a module that installs under the dash and eliminates the need to carry a bulky key fob.   Once it’s installed, your car unlocks as you approach it, and re-locks as you leave it.  You can start the car and drive it without a key present.  You can also text access to the car to friends, family and employees.

Under Directed’s product, in the case that a phone runs out of batteries, there’s an RFID card that can be kept in a wallet or purse. If you press the card against the driver’s window, the car will start and drive.  SMARTkey was to require a $7/month service plan.

VOXX told us that it too had been working on a phone-as-car-key product.  Senior VP Automotive Aftermarket Sales Aron Demers said, “Both VOXX and Directed had parallel paths we were working on when we bought the company.” Again, the company now hopes to offer a phone as key product during the first half of next year.

Android and Apple systems use ultra wideband technology so you can keep your phone in your pocket or purse while the car recognizes it.  Or, you can tap your phone on the car handle via Near Field Communication (NFC).

Apple says, if the car goes missing, you can turn off your keys remotely via the cloud. And if you lose a key, there’s no need for a trip to the car dealer.  Users can also share access to the car with friends and family via iMessage.  And they may set different limitations for each user, so a teen might get certain restrictions.

Google’s announcement came at its 2021 I/O developer event this month.  The feature will be available in Android 12.


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