A new feature called Fast Pair speeds up the Bluetooth pairing process for Android devices, Google announced in a Tuesday Android Developers blog post. For starters, Fast Pair will work with the Google Pixel Buds and Libratone’s Q Adapt On-Ear, but it will eventually come to other products.
Fast Pair uses a combination of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and standard Bluetooth to accomplish its accelerated pairing, the post said. BLE handles the advertising and discovery side of things, while traditional Bluetooth performs the pairing. It will work with Android devices running Google Play services 11.7 and later, and will be backwards compatible with Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
When two compatible Fast Pair-enabled devices are turned on and in pairing mode, Android will begin scanning for BLE broadcasts near the phone. It is at this point that it should discover a Fast Pair packet, as long as Bluetooth is enabled and location services are turned on. That packet is sent back to Google’s servers to provide an image of the product, its name, and any potential companion apps that are available, the post said.
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A notification will then pop up on the user’s device with the product name and an image of it, asking the user to pair it to the device. Once the user taps on the “Tap to pair” icon, classic Bluetooth will begin establishing a connection.
Once the connection is established, a success notification will pop up for the user. This notification will also provide a link to download a companion app if one is available, the post said.
“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,” the post said.
Fast Pair seems to echo what Apple is trying to accomplish with its AirPods wireless earbuds. While Apple relies on proprietary protocols to establish a connection, the end goal of both features is the same: Simplify the process for connecting wireless accessories to the smartphone.
As smartphones continue to take the place of our desktops and TVs, enabling the use of quality wireless accessories will be paramount for top manufacturers. If Apple and Google want their phones to be the go-to device for their customer, they must provide quick and easy connections to complementary products that enhance the user experience.
For Bluetooth device manufacturers, Android’s Fast Pair offers better brand recognition and an easier tie-in to proprietary apps as well.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- Android Fast Pair uses Bluetooth Low Energy and standard Bluetooth to make device pairing faster, and provide more information about Bluetooth accessories.
- Fast Pair will work with Google Play services 11.7 and later, and will be backwards compatible with Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
- Android Fast Pair and Apple’s AirPods both streamline the pairing process, which will be critical as smartphones become a more central device for users.