iPhone users can now share their digital car keys with Pixel owners

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You no longer need others to use the same phone OS to share your digital car keys. Google has added car key sharing to Pixel devices, making cross-platform swaps available in an early form. If you’re using an iPhone running iOS 16.1, you can send keys stored in Wallet to a Pixel through communications apps like Mail, Messages and WhatsApp. Pixel users share their car access through Android’s wallet app.

Google plans to expand sharing to more phones using Android 12 or newer. Only a handful of car makers currently support digital car keys, including BMW and Hyundai brands that include Genesis and Kia. Some cars may require that you activate through a physical key or code, while others might ask you to start the process through the vehicle’s infotainment screen.

Note that this isn’t the same as the remote or proximity-based lock controls you get from companies like Tesla — this treats your phone like a physical key that requires getting close to the door. On phones with ultra-wideband, such as many recent iPhones and larger Galaxy S21/S22 models, you can unlock your car without taking the phone out of your pocket or using a smartwatch.

Companies across the industry, including Apple and Google, are hoping to make a publicly available standard for digital car key sharing. While there’s no timeline for when this might happen, the appeal is clear. You could lend your car to a friend for the weekend regardless of the phone they use, and without handing over a fob. That could be crucial as car ownership declines and people are more likely to borrow vehicles than rent or use ridesharing services.

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