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 accessories 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 accessories 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 accessory near your Android smartphone, the phone will serve up the accessory'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.
Recently, Google made it even easier for you to connect Fast Pair-compatible accessories to the devices associated with your Google Account. Fast Pair will now connect accessories to all your current and future Android phones (6.0+). Google said it will add support for Chromebooks in 2019, too. In other words, your Google Account can remember headphones you’ve used and automatically transfer the connection to another phone.
The actual pairing process still uses “classic Bluetooth,” and there's no improved connection reliability. Also, for Fast Pair to become widely available, accessory makers will still need to adopt it. It’s not something that suddenly works for all existing Bluetooth accessories. If you are a Bluetooth accessory manufacturer and want to adopt Fast Pair, 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 accessory 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.
Note: In November 2018, Google updated Fast Pair so that accessories will automatically connect to devices associated with your Google Account.
Which accessories support Fast Pair?
The following accessories support Fast Pair:
- Google Pixel Buds headphones
- Libratone's Q Adapt On-Ear headphones
- Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones
- Jaybird Tarah Wireless Sport headphones
- Plantronics Voyager 8200 headsets
Google said it's working with dozens of manufacturers, some of which will bring new accessories to market over the coming months. This includes upcoming products from brands like Anker and Bose.
Which devices support Fast Pair?
At launch, all supported Android devices (running Play services 11.7+ with compatibility back to Android 6.0) can use Fast Pair. This includes all your current and future Android phones (6.0+) associated with your Google Account.
Chromebooks will get support for Fast Pair in 2019.
Want to know more?
Check out the Android Developers' blog post for more details.