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(Pocket-lint) - When Apple introduced the AirPods, people were blown away by the effortless pairing between the iPhone (or Mac) and the wireless earbuds.

It's not the only company to work on such an interface however. Google has also created a feature called Fast Pair for Bluetooth devices. The tech giant calls it a "hassle-free process to pair your Bluetooth devices on all supported Android devices". In 2021 the interface was updated to make it even more simple.

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 connect with a simple tap. It even shows a picture of the product you’re connecting - just like AirPods.

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How does Google Fast Pair work?

When you put a Fast Pair-enabled accessory in pairing mode near your Android smartphone, the phone will serve up the accessory's product image and name in a large pop-up window.

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.

Google has even made it easy to connect Fast Pair-compatible accessories to the devices associated with your Google Account. Fast Pair will now register any connected accessories to your Google account which then links it to all your current and future Android phones (6.0+).

In other words, your Google Account can remember headphones you’ve used and automatically transfer the connection to another phone.

How to use Google Fast Pair

Here's the process, step by step:

  1. Turn on a Fast Pair-enabled accessory and put it in pairing mode.
  2. You will receive a notification asking you to "Connect" to the device.
  3. When you tap on "Connect", Android uses Bluetooth to establish a connection.
  4. A success notification will be shown with a link to download the companion app (if there is one). 
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What else does it enable? 

  • Easy battery monitoring
  • Personalisation
  • Find My Device support

Easy pairing is just one advantage of Fast Pair, it also makes it easy to manage your Bluetooth accessory, particularly if it's a pair of Bluetooth earphones/headphones or a speaker. At least, it does if you're running Android 10 or later on your smartphone. 

When connected you can see proper battery levels for headphones. If they're true wireless earbuds - like the OnePlus Buds or Pixel Buds - the menu shows the battery level of each earbud plus the battery level of the charging case. This same menu also lets you personalise the earbuds by renaming them and adjusting audio settings. 

You also get Find My Device support, so if you've lost one and it's connected to the phone you can get the headphones/earphones to ring, making them easy to find. Or, failing that, you can trace the last known location. 

Which accessories support Fast Pair?

Bluetooth accessories

The following accessories support Fast Pair (plus many more):

  • Google Pixel Buds headphones
  • Libratone's Q Adapt On-Ear headphones
  • Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones
  • OnePlus Buds
  • Fitbit fitness trackers

Google is now working with more than a dozen manufacturers including JBL, Harman Kardon, OnePlus, Bose, Sony, Libratone, Fitbit and more. 

Which devices support Fast Pair?

Android phones

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. For the advanced personalisation feature and 'Find My Device' integration you need an Android device with Android 10 or later. 

What about Chromebook devices?

Google was supposed to add Fast Pair support to Chrome OS machines in 2019, but so far that has failed to materialise.

Want to know more?

Check out the Android Developers' blog post for more details.

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Writing by Maggie Tillman and Cam Bunton. Originally published on 19 October 2018.