After a great 2021 for Wear OS, Google continues its momentum with the upcoming possibility for watches to unlock Chrome OS and Android devices. On a similar front, Google is expanding what digital car keys can do this year.

Google offers two great automatic unlocking features, both called “Smart Lock”. On Chrome OS, Smart Lock allows a paired Android phone to unlock your Chromebook and ignore the long passcode or PIN. Meanwhile, the older version of Android allows a nearby Bluetooth device to keep your phone unlocked.

The new auto-unlock ability is now coming to Wear OS. Once set up, your smartwatch can unlock your Chromebook and Android phone or tablet when pairings are close. The cellphone needs to be unlocked, and there is a confirmation on the watch with the option to “re-lock” quickly. Your phone will also note that it was “Unlocked by watch”.

This feature greatly increases the usefulness of wearing a Google smart watch. This is the most affordable and mid-range (although that’s slowly changing) Chromebooks don’t have a fingerprint sensor. The auto-unlock capability combines the Wear and Chrome OS cross-device experience with that of Apple Watch and macOS.

Wearable Unlock for Android and Chrome OS will be available in the “coming months” on “Qualifying Wear OS 3 smartwatches”.

In the same way,digital car keys on android will support ultra broadband (UWB) and sharing. Car keys currently work over NFC and require you to place your device on a car door to unlock it. With UWB’s “precise range and spatial orientation” capabilities, you “won’t even have to pull out your phone to use it as a car key,” Google says.

Google is also working on the ability to “securely and remotely share” the phone key with trusted people who need to borrow your vehicle. It will happen “later this year” as Google is also pushing to expand support for devices and cars beyond Pixel, Samsung and BMW.

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