Google may have cracked the code for eliminating physical SIM cards for good. It seems like the tech giant will solve this problem with Android 13.
SIM cards are at the heart of each phone and allow users to receive calls, send messages and even connect to the internet. These tiny modules are so essential to phones that manufacturers have to squeeze them in, regardless of the space constraints. The lack of space inside the devices has made the form factor shrink from full to mini, micro and eventually, to nano SIMs.
Nowadays, some phones are available with embedded SIMs (eSIMs). These new modules can replace the traditional cards. However, there is a problem with eSIMs that can restrict them from taking over and this is where this Android 13 feature comes in.
The limitations of an eSIM
The main problem that eSIMs face is providing dual SIM support. These chips are designed to work with a single service provider at a time. However, eSIMs can currently store multiple profiles on one chip and support switching between them, but there is a catch. An eSIM can keep only one profile active at a time. So, the only way to get dual SIM support with existing solutions is to buy a device with multiple eSIMs, multiple physical SIM cards, or an eSIM and a physical SIM card.
Why won’t the manufacturers just use two eSIMs?
Adding another eSIM slot to the already crammed up interior of the device will undermine the whole point of the technology. Even if eSIMs take up lesser space than physical cards, having two eSIMs would still limit available space.
How Google may solve this problem?
According to Android Police, Google’s solution will use something called multiple enabled profiles (MEP) that will allow multiple active SIM profiles on one eSIM. This means a single eSIM will be able to connect to two different carriers at the same time.
How is it expected to work?
Google’s MEP method gets more interesting as everything is likely to happen on a software level. Multiple logical interfaces will serve as independent communication channels between a SIM profile and the phone’s modem while maintaining a single physical connection between the components.
The company will also add API classes to Android Open Source Project (AOSP) that will allow carrier apps to get information about the logical and physical interfaces along with the SIM profiles stored on them. Earlier reports suggested that Google is testing it on an engineering Pixel hardware.
When should we expect the arrival of this technology?
As per the reports, Google is likely to introduce this supercharged eSIM support on Android 13 as references of this technology are there is AOSP and the Android Developers website suggests its integration in the upcoming operating system.
Some new MEP APIs are also present in the second and hopefully, the last Android 13 Developer Preview. There will be more information about this feature as the beta versions of the upcoming OS will be released. The company plans to release six beta versions in six months starting from April
How will this feature help users?
This feature would potentially be a game-changer for people using two SIM cards on a single phone while leaving some extra room for smartphone manufacturers to utilise. This feature can, later on, be implemented on iOS and even Windows. However, it is important to note that Apple already allows iPhone 13 to use two eSIMs for two or more mobile plans.