At I/O 2021 in May, Google first showcased a new Android 12 feature that would let users unlock their cars with their phones. Back then, the company announced that the feature would make its way to select Pixel and Samsung Galaxy smartphones later this year. As promised, Google is now rolling out Digital car key support to the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, and Galaxy S21, along with a couple of other new Android Auto features.
In a recent blog post, Google announced that the Digital car key feature is now available in select countries on the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, and Galaxy S21. It currently works with a couple of compatible BMW vehicles, but Google will likely add support for cars from more manufacturers soon.
Note that Google’s Digital car key feature is not the same as the Digital Key feature that rolled out to some Samsung devices earlier this year. While the features essentially perform the same actions, Samsung’s solution is only supported the Galaxy S21 Plus, Galaxy S21 Ultra, Galaxy Z Fold 3, Galaxy Z Flip 3, and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, and it works with the Genesis GV60 EV only.
Along with Digital car key support, Google is also rolling out a new auto-launch setting. The setting automatically starts Android Auto as soon as you connect your phone to a compatible car. Furthermore, Google is rolling out a new always-on play button on the Android Auto home screen, giving you easy access to your favorite music with just a tap. The company is also introducing a new search icon that lets you start a voice search quickly.
In the coming months, Google plans to roll out yet another Android Auto feature that will let you respond to text messages with one tap using Smart Reply from the Google Assistant.
In today’s announcement, Google also highlighted new widgets for Google Photos, Google Play Books, and YouTube Music. You can learn more about these widgets by clicking the link above.