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Google Announces Expansion of Fast Pair to More Devices and Faster Setup for Chromebook Users

On Wednesday, Google announced a series of Android updates designed to make the user experience better and easier. One of the most significant changes is the proliferation of Fast Pair to TVs, Chromebooks, and smart home devices. Google announced that the earbuds will also have the ability to automatically switch audio from Android device to tablet. The company also announced a quick setup for Chromebooks with Android phones. Likewise, Wear OS smartwatches will have the ability to unlock your Chromebooks and Android devices.

Fast Pair has been around for Android phones since November 2017 to allow users to quickly pair Bluetooth headphones with their smartphones. The proprietary standard aims to replace Apple’s fast pairing technology and is said to have helped people connect their Android phones to Bluetooth accessories over 100 million times.

Google plans to roll out Fast Pair to new devices by partnering with various manufacturers and offering new features.

Google said that in a few weeks, users will be able to automatically connect their Fast Pair-enabled Bluetooth headphones to the Chromebook with one click the first time they turn it on.

In the coming months, Fast Pair will work not only with Chromebooks, but also smart TVs powered by Google TV or Android TV platforms to help users quickly connect compatible headphones to their TV without going through a step-by-step process.

Smart home devices from Matter will also receive Fast Pair support in the coming weeks. This will allow you to instantly connect your Matter smart home devices to your network, Google Home, and other related apps.

Google also said it is developing technology for Bluetooth-enabled headphones that allow them to automatically switch audio to the device you’re listening to. For example, if you put on headphones to watch a movie on your Android tablet, and you get a call in the middle of your viewing time, the movie will pause and the audio in the headphones will automatically switch to your Android phone. It will return to your tablet after disconnecting the call.

In addition, Google announced that it will add 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 says. Notably, Apple has supported spatial audio on its devices for 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 having to manually enter them on fresh hardware. The experience will launch later this year, although Google has yet to clarify which Chromebook models and Android versions will receive the update.

Google provides quick setup support for Chromebook users via Android
Photo Credit: Google

Users will also be able to unlock and access their Chromebook and Android phone or tablet using a paired Wear OS smartwatch when the devices are nearby. This is similar to the “Unlock with Apple Watch” feature introduced by Apple last year.

Chromebook users will also be able to view and reply to messages they receive on their Android phones in a dedicated Phone Hub section, right from the big screen of their computing device. It will be available later this year, the company said, without describing how it will leverage the experience.

The Phone Hub will additionally include a Camera Roll so users can access their latest photos and videos on their Chromebook.

Google also announced the Fast Pair extension on Windows PCs to allow users to quickly set up Bluetooth accessories, sync text messages, and share files using the Nearby Share service. The update will first hit Acer, HP and Intel computers later this year.

Microsoft already has a Your Phone app that allows Android users to access their messages and notifications directly from their Windows PC.

To help users stream the music and podcasts they listen to on their phones to louder audio solutions, Google said it is working on implementing Chromecast built-in soundbars and speakers. Bose will be the first brand to bring new features to its smart speakers and soundbars in the next few months.

Bose Chromecast soundbar embedded in Bose image

Bose launches soundbars with Chromecast built-in
Photo Credit: Google

Google unveiled a digital car key feature last month that will use ultra-wideband (UWB) phones to unlock car locks. It will initially be limited to Samsung and Google Pixel phones and will only work with BMW vehicles. However, Google said that digital car keys will work on more Android phones and cars later this year.

The Android maker also said it is working on features, including asking Google Assistant to warm up and cool the car, lock and unlock, and get information, including how much battery power is left. These features will be rolling out to select Volvo Cars vehicles for the first time in the coming months, according to Google.

Get the latest news from the Consumer Electronics Show at Gadgets 360 at our CES 2022 center.

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