Google announced on Tuesday through a post in its Android Developers Blog that a new feature was coming soon to Android devices running Marshmallow and later: Fast Pair. The new connectivity option will make the pairing of Bluetooth accessories like the new Pixel Buds much quicker.
The move has been perceived by many in the tech industry as a late response to Apple’s quick-pairing mechanism introduced alongside the AirPods. The wireless headphones made by the tech giant and Beats pair automatically when you tap them to your device.
While it still won’t take as little as a tap to pair headphones and other peripherals with your smartphone, it is a step in the right direction. The industry seems to be moving forward with Apple’s proposal of getting rid of the headphone jack for seemingly no reason, so companies will need to adapt to the wireless future.
— Android Developers (@AndroidDev) October 31, 2017
How to use Fast Pair on your Android device
The Fast Pair specification works using Bluetooth and BLE, short for Bluetooth Low Energy, to connect to smart devices. Google claims that security, speed, and ease of use are the pillars of this new standard.
To use Fast Pair, users will need to be running Android 6.0 Marshmallow first and foremost, and then to be using Google Play Services 11.7 or later. These requirements are essential to make sure that connectivity is established as intended.
With a compatible device in hand, the process is simple. First, you need to turn on your Bluetooth-enabled accessory close to your phone or tablet. Then, a notification will pop up on the screen asking the users to “Tap to Pair.” Traditional Bluetooth then works its magic and automatically pairs the device.
— Android Authority (@AndroidAuth) October 31, 2017
Fast Pair will gain traction if Google opens up
Fast Pair is an innovative way to push forward the adoption of wireless peripherals like headphones in the dawn of the headphone jack removal. Google is particularly interested in this, as signaled by the introduction of their own Pixel Buds along with the last generation of Pixel flagships.
The colorful wireless headphones are, of course, Bluetooth-enabled and one of the few that work with the new software feature. The other two are Libratone’s Q Adapt On-Ear and Plantronics’ Voyager 8200 series headsets.
As with all things Google, endeavors tend to succeed and gain more widespread adoption over time if the standards are open. The approach so far by the tech giant has been to work closely with these companies alone, thus limiting the scope of accessories that are supported by Fast Pair.