Google announces Fast Pair – quick Bluetooth pairing for Android

Bluetooth Fast PairBluetooth might be getting improved every year, but the pairing process of two Bluetooth devices remains cumbersome as ever. But, Google wants to solve this with a new feature called ‘Fast Pair,’ which aims to make discovery and pairing for Bluetooth devices on Android effortless.

What is Fast Pair and what does it do?

Fast Pair is a new device specification developed by Google for Android, which uses Bluetooth low energy to advertise and discover other nearby devices and classic Bluetooth for pairing. Basically, with Fast Pair, Google wants to make the process of pairing devices easier and more user-friendly.

Announced in a blog post on Android Developers Blog, the new Fast Pair will be available on all Android devices running Play Services 11.7+ and Android version 6.0+. However, there is a catch. In order to reap the benefits of Fast Pair, your Bluetooth device needs to support the feature, which it seems not a lot of devices do right now. Google mentioned in the blog post that the new Pixel Buds, Plantronics Voyager 8200 series wireless headsets and Libratone’s Q Adapt On-Ear currently support Fast Pair.

So, how does Fast Pair work?

  • Turn on a Fast Pair-enabled device and put it in pairing mode close to your Android device (with Bluetooth and Location is turned on).
  • Android scans for Bluetooth low energy broadcasts in close proximity and discovers a Fast Pair device. The company then sends the information to its servers to get the device’s product image, product name and companion app (if there is one).
  • Following which, the Android device will show a notification asking you to “Tap to Pair.” This notification will have an image of the device and name. When you tap to pair, a connection is established and your Android device is paired with the other device and you are shown a link to download a companion app of the other device if there is one.

From Google’s description of the feature, Fast Pair seems more like a fancy-looking version of the traditional Bluetooth pairing, which needs a data connection to work as advertised. If you know your way around an Android device, the good-old way of Bluetooth pairing isn’t going to be any slower than the new Fast Pair.

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