Fast Steam Brings One of the Best Apple AirPod Features to Android
Yesterday Google announced an update to the way Android pairing with Bluetooth devices, making connecting some wireless headphones less of a headache. It’s called Fast Pair, and while it only works with a handful of devices right now, the company is trying to convince manufacturers and add their compatible Bluetooth devices to the Fast Pair ecosystem.
How it works
Fast Pair is Android’s approach to quickly and easily pairing Bluetooth devices, and works similar to Apple’s own AirPods. But instead of relying on proprietary hardware like the W1 chip inside AirPods, Fast Pair relies on the battery-friendly, low-energy Bluetooth protocol used to connect wearable devices, headphones, and smart home technologies to devices without excessive power consumption.
It combines Bluetooth information with location data to find supported devices nearby. When your smartphone detects a Fast Pair Bluetooth Low Energy device (that is, your Fast Pair enabled headphones or speakers), you will receive a notification asking you to pair the two devices. Android will also notify you of any companion apps for your specific device if you want more control over its sound or enable certain features.
How to get it
Google Fast Pair is currently only rolling out to select Android devices. You will find it on Pixel 2 devices, but you can make sure that the update will hit any of your Android smartphones by updating to Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) or higher . You also need to update Google Play Services to version 11.7 or higher.
Not every headset works
Fast Pair not only requires an updated version of Android, but also a compatible pair of earbuds to work properly. According to Google, their own translation-friendly Pixel Buds along with the Libratone Q-Adapt on-ear headphones support Fast Pair.
As someone who has used Fast Pair with the aforementioned Libratone and Google Pixel 2 XL earbuds, the pairing process was definitely easier than pairing traditional Bluetooth headphones. You turn them on, hold the pairing button and watch the headphones with the icon and description appear in the notification bar. It is still a little buggy, however, and sometimes tries to pair with another set of Bluetooth headphones, requiring you to turn Bluetooth off and on. However, he does the hardest part of the job.
Support for more devices, such as the Plantronics Voyager 8200 series of wireless headsets, is on the way, and Google is urging manufacturers to join them by asking them to fill out a form to request more information about this feature.