When Apple introduced the AirPods, people were blown away by the effortless pairing between the iPhone (or Mac) and the wireless earbuds.
But did you know Google has also been working on a way to simplify connecting Bluetooth devices to Android phones? It has a feature called Fast Pair, which it described as a "hassle-free process to pair your Bluetooth devices on all supported Android devices". It's designed to make discovery and pairing of Bluetooth devices easy and has been rolling out to Android 6.0+ devices.
What is Google Fast Pair?
Fast Pair is a new approach that uses Bluetooth Low Energy and your Android phone’s location to automatically discover Bluetooth accessories in close proximity and then automatically connect with a simple tap. It even shows a picture of the product you’re connecting - just like AirPods.
How does Google Fast Pair work?
When you put a Fast Pair-enabled device near your Android smartphone, the phone will serve up the device's product image, name, and companion app (if there is one) from Google’s servers. Then, once you hit connect, you'll see a confirmation telling you the pairing's successful. Android will also offer to download the accessory’s companion app. This is all done without you having to fumble through the Bluetooth settings.
The actual pairing process still uses “classic Bluetooth,” so there's no improved connection reliability. And for Fast Pair to become widely available, accessory makers need to adopt it. It’s not something that will immediately work for all of your existing Bluetooth gadgets. If you are a Bluetooth accessory manufacturer and want to adopt Fast Pair for your device, you can reach out to Google here.
How to use Google Fast Pair
Here's the process, step by step:
- Turn on a Fast Pair-enabled device and put it in pairing mode.
- You will receive a notification asking you to "Tap to pair" to the device.
- When you tap on the notification, Android uses Bluetooth to establish a connection.
- A success notification will be shown with a link to download the companion app.
Which devices support Fast Pair?
At launch, all supported Android devices running Play services 11.7+ with compatibility back to Marshmallow (Android 6.0) can use Fast Pair.
At launch, Google Pixel Buds, Libratone's Q Adapt On-Ear, Bose QuietComfort 35 II, and Plantronics Voyager 8200 headsets support Fast pair.
Want to know more?
Check out the Android Developers' blog post for more details.