Samsung just Unpacked a Galaxy S21 digital car key for Ford, Genesis models

The tech giant says it's working with Ford, Genesis, Audi and BMW to make car controls simple and present on your Samsung smartphone.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
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This is more than a smartphone -- it's a car key, too.


Thursday's Samsung Unpacked event included a wealth of shiny new technology coming to us very soon, and for drivers, the Korean company plans to tackle the humble car key. At its event on Thursday, Samsung announced a new digital car key for the Galaxy S21, and it hopes to make vehicle functions a permanent part of its smartphones.

The digital key initiative bakes the function to unlock and lock a car right into the Galaxy S21 to keep owners from fumbling with a fob. In addition to working automatically upon approaching a vehicle, Samsung says users will be able to easily share their digital key with friends and family. In other words, a few taps from a Galaxy S21 and someone you trust can borrow your car for the time being. This could also further open the door to car-sharing opportunities, like Turo.

Samsung's working with partners to standardize Ultra-Wide Band technology (UWB) that powers the digital key, and to start, Ford, Genesis, BMW and Audi are already onboard. When the digital car key rolls out, exclusive to the new Galaxy S21 series of devices, these auto brands will be the first to benefit. BMW is also the first brand Apple plans to work with to bring its own digital car keys to life, though it sounds like Samsung plans on approaching the tech in a far more aggressive manner.

In addition to the digital car key, Samsung is adding cars to its growing collection of connected items via its Smart Things hub. Applicable cars will feature connections to start and stop the vehicle, flick on the air conditioning and more. And the company is working with Google to pack the same features into Android Auto.

Samsung isn't providing the timing for when its digital key will launch, but it says expect its auto partners to start gearing up for these virtual keys in the very near future.

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