Many smartphone owners now use wireless audio devices like headphones and speakers to listen to music. This has prompted tech giant Google to look for a way that would make pairing the external devices with a mobile phone faster, more reliable and simpler for the user.
According to the company, a new process called Fast Pair is the solution. It allows smartphone users to hook up their audio devices without having to fumble through Bluetooth settings. The connection still uses Bluetooth to make audio devices interact with the phone during use, but relies on the newer Blueooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to discover them.
It’s likely that one of the main motivations behind the development of Fast Pair is Google’s desire to compete with Apple when it comes to making wireless headphones easier to pair with Android-based smartphones. Apple’s wireless AirPods headphones have a small chip embedded within to simplify the task of connecting them to an iPhone.
The process of using Fast Pair is fairly simple. The Android operating system scans the area close to a user’s phone for any Fast Pair-compatible devices that are in pairing mode. Once a Fast Pair packet is discovered, it gets sent to Google’s servers, which send information including the name of the product, its image and its companion app if there is one. Next, the user will receive a notification on their screen with this information and can simply tap on it to begin the pairing process. Classic Bluetooth is then used to complete the connection.
Currently, the only devices which support Fast Pair are the Libratone Q Adapt On-Ear headphones and Google’s Pixel Buds. The list of devices supporting the technology is expected to grow in the near future, as Google is working closely with manufacturers of various mobile phone accessories. In addition to audio devices like headphones and speakers, Fast Pair will likely be made available with other accessories like wearable tech and external keyboards.