Google on Wednesday announced a series of updates to Android aimed at bringing convenience and ease to users. One of the most significant changes is the expansion of Fast Pair to TVs, Chromebooks and smart home devices. The headphones will also have the ability to automatically switch audio from an Android device to a tablet seamlessly, Google announced. The company also announced a quick setup of Chromebooks with Android phones. Likewise, Wear OS-based smartwatches will have the ability to jailbreak your Chromebook and Android devices.
Fast Pair has been in place for Android phones since November 2017 to allow users to quickly connect Bluetooth headphones with their smartphones. The proprietary standard aims to adopt Apple’s quick pairing technology and claims to have helped people connect their Android phones with Bluetooth accessories more than 100 million times.
Google is planning to expand Fast Pair to newer devices by partnering with multiple manufacturers and bringing new experiences.
Starting in a few weeks, Google said users will be able to connect their Fast Pair-enabled Bluetooth headphones with a Chromebook automatically in a single click when they are turned on for the first time.
In addition to Chromebooks, Fast Pair will work with smart TVs based on Google TV or Android TV platforms in the coming months to help users quickly connect their compatible headphones to their TVs without going through a step-by-step process.
Matter’s smart home devices will also receive Fast Pair support in the coming weeks. It will allow you to instantly connect Matter-made smart home devices to your network, Google Home and other associated apps.
Google also revealed that it is developing technology for Bluetooth-enabled headphones to allow them to automatically change the audio to the device you’re listening to. For example, if you are using headphones to watch a movie on your Android tablet and you get a call on your phone in the middle of the viewing time, the movie will pause and the headphone audio will automatically switch to your Android phone. It will return to your tablet once the call is disconnected.
Additionally, Google has announced that it is bringing spatial audio support to headphones that work with Android devices in the coming months. This will allow the headphones to adapt sound based on head movements, the company said. Notably, Apple has had spatial audio support on its devices for quite some time now.
Google also announced that users will be able to instantly set up a new Chromebook with their Android phone and provide immediate access to information such as their Google login and Wi-Fi password, without requiring the user to manually enter them into the new hardware. The experience will launch later this year, though Google has not yet detailed which Chromebook models and Android versions will receive the update.
Users will also have the ability to unlock and access their Chromebook and Android phone or tablet using a paired Wear OS smartwatch when the devices are in close proximity. This sounds similar to the ‘Unlock with Apple Watch’ feature introduced by Apple last year.
Chromebook users will also have the ability in the dedicated Phone Hub section to view and respond to messages they receive on their Android phones directly from the larger screen of their computing device. It will be available later this year, the company said, without describing how that would make the experience possible.
Phone Hub will also include the Camera Roll to allow users to access their most recent photos and videos on a Chromebook.
Google also announced the expansion of Fast Pair to Windows PCs to allow users to quickly set up Bluetooth accessories, sync text messages and share files using the nearby sharing service. The update will hit Acer, HP and Intel machines first later this year.
Microsoft already has the Your Phone app to allow Android users to access their messages and notifications directly on Windows PCs.
To help users stream music and podcasts they’re listening to on their phones to louder audio solutions, Google has revealed that it’s working to bring built-in soundbars and speakers to Chromecast. Bose will be the first brand to offer the new experience in its smart speakers and soundbars in the coming months.
Last month, Google introduced a digital car key feature that will use ultra-wideband (UWB) phones to unlock your car lock. It will initially be limited to Samsung and Google Pixel phones and will only work with BMW vehicles. However, Google said the digital car keys will work on more Android phones and vehicles later this year.
The Android maker also revealed it’s working on features including asking Google Assistant to heat and cool a car, lock and unlock, get information including how much battery is left. These features will first arrive on select Volvo Cars vehicles in the coming months, Google said.