Google has come up with a way to make pairing Bluetooth headphones and speakers with an Android phone or tablet much faster and easier than it has been. The new syncing specification is called Fast Pair, and it uses Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) in conjunction with an Android device's location to automatically discover Bluetooth gear in close proximity, which users can sync with a single tap.
Fast Pair gives Google an answer to the easy and seamless pairing that exists with Apple's AirPods and iPhone handsets, though the technologies work in different ways. Apple put a small chip inside the AirPods that allows them to communicate with an iPhone, whereas Google is using a classic Bluetooth connection, albeit in a clever way to speed up and simplify the process.
Google's implementation requires that a Fast Pair-enabled device be in the vicinity. The field of compatible devices is limited at the moment, consisting of Google's Pixel Buds and Libratone's Q Adapt On-Ear earphones, and soon Plantronics Voyager 8200 series wireless headsets.
Fast Pair scans for and detects these nearby devices (provided Bluetooth and Location are both turned on), then sends a packet to Google's servers to fetch the paired device's name, product image, and companion app (if there is one). The user receives a high priority notification asking them to "Tap to pair" to the device, with the notification displaying the product name and image.
"Imagine doing all of this without ever fumbling with Bluetooth settings. Users get a seamless and secure pairing experience and confidence that they're connecting to the right product. Manufacturers get their brand, device name and companion app in front of the users," Google says.
Google is currently rolling out Fast Pair support to compatible devices running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or later.