Regardless of operating preferences or allegiances, the smartphone is the most important computing device for most people. We use phones for a lot more stuff than their primary purpose. The apps ecosystems built to run on the hardware make them indispensable additions to daily life routines. We browse the web, consume entertainment, shop for goods, navigate our surroundings, and manage intelligent homes, all from phones. Phones are ubiquitous, and that won’t change anytime soon. If any new device should replace the smartphone, it’ll still have to perform the same tasks, albeit in a new type of user interface.
Meanwhile, Google wants the smartphone to get even better. Specifically, Google wants Android to be the key to everything in your life. The new Android Ready SE Alliance will ensure the safety standards are in place to ensure that your security isn’t compromised.
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Google introduced the new Android Ready SE Alliance on Thursday, a new initiative that will allow more Android vendors to offer next-gen features to their customers. SE is short for “Secure Element,” the chip that exists on certain phones to encrypt critical data like credit card information and secure biometric data. It’s the chip that enabled hardware encryption on devices. The Pixel has Google’s Titan M chip with StrongBox tamper-resistant key storage, and Apple’s iPhones feature their own Secure Enclave.
Google sees these SE chips playing a huge role in the next generation of smartphones, which could be used to offer additional practical features that require strong encryption. Google explains that phones could become digital keys for cars and homes and store digital ID versions of driver licenses, national IDs, and passports. The SE tech would also protect “eMoney solutions,” such as Wallet and others.
The Android Ready SE Alliance will set the framework for more suppliers and vendors to incorporate the same set of tamper-resistant hardware to protect this type of sensitive user data. This initiative should bring a uniform approach across Android for all those novel use cases that Google exemplified. Vendors would implement the same security standards. Users would get the same protections, regardless of the Android device they use, as long as the vendor implements the new SE technologies.
Google says that the Android Ready SE Alliance tech would also support other gadgets, not just phones and tablets. The StrongBox tech is also available for WearOS, Android Auto, and Android TV.
Without naming names, Google said that it’s working with several Android OEMs to bring next-generation SE-based features to users. Google is especially interested in turning Android phones into digital IDs and allowing them to work as car keys, so it’s prioritizing work on these features. The iPhone can already be used as a smart car key on supporting vehicles.
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