Further evidence shows Google’s Pixel 6 will have ultra-wideband (UWB) support
Ultra-wideband or UWB is a short-range wireless communication protocol that offers precise tracking and positioning of IoT devices and high-speed data transmission over a high-frequency radio spectrum. Apple’s iPhone 11 was the first modern smartphone to introduce the UWB tech. Since then, the technology has made its way to several high-end smartphones, including the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Galaxy Z Fold 3 / Fold 2, Galaxy S21+ / S21 Ultra, and Xiaomi Mi Mix 4. Soon, the Pixel 6 series could join this list, as evidence is mounting that Google’s next-gen Pixel phones will support UWB.
News of the Pixel 6 supporting ultra-wideband was first reported on by XDA’s Mishaal Rahman back in late April. At Google I/O 2021, Google announced digital car key support in Android 12 and said the feature would be coming to select Pixel and Samsung Galaxy devices later this year. Many took that as further confirmation that the Pixel 6 will support UWB — though it should be noted that Android 12’s car key feature also works over NFC. Now, however, more evidence has emerged that the Pixel 6 will support UWB. A recent code change submitted to the AOSP Gerrit essentially confirms this news:
Since we are now creating an AOSP HAL for uwb. Rename Pixel specific internal UWB HAL from Android S to hal_uwb_vendor to avoid conflicts with the AOSP HAL sepolicy rules that are going to be added in Android T.
Basically, Google doesn’t have a generic UWB HAL (hardware abstraction layer) ready to submit to AOSP yet, so they’re delaying that until Android 13 T. Because of this delay, Google is renaming the Pixel-specific HALs in Android 12 so they don’t conflict with the generic UWB HAL they’re making for Android 13. For starters, a HAL is a piece of software that lets a device’s hardware components interact with the OS. The fact that there’s a Pixel-specific UWB HAL means that there’s a Pixel phone with UWB hardware, which is very likely the upcoming Pixel 6 series. However, we don’t know whether UWB support will be available on both the Pixel 6 or only on the Pro model.
Google added a generic API for UWB in Android back in April 2021; however, it’s not accessible to third-party apps.