Skip to main content

Google makes it easier to pair Bluetooth devices on Android with Fast Pair

Google Pixel 2 XL
Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends
When Apple first introduced the AirPods, they were hailed for how easily they paired with the user’s iPhone — but Google, not one to be left out of the fun, has been working on a way to pair Bluetooth devices on its own.

The new system is called “Fast Pair,” and it basically uses Bluetooth Low Energy and the phone’s location to automatically find Bluetooth devices that it’s close to and automatically pair with the simple tap of a button. In other words, all you’ll need to do is place the device close to your phone, and a little notification will pop up asking if you want to pair the device. Tap it and you’re good to go. You’ll even get a little picture of the device you’re pairing (yep, just like how Apple does things).

Of course, it’s important to note a few differences between Google and Apple’s attempts. While Apple partly uses its new W1 chip to connect to nearby devices like the AirPods, Google’s method still technically just uses Bluetooth — though the introduction of Bluetooth 5.0 should help things along.

The system will be especially helpful as we head into a wireless future. The Google Pixel 2 is only the latest in a string of devices to lose the headphone jack, meaning you’ll have to either use the included dongle or embrace wireless technology to use headphones, and many are using wireless headphones anyway.

One cool thing about the new feature is that it’ll be supported on devices running any operating system past Android Marshmallow, meaning the vast majority of phones will be able to take advantage of it. That’s good news — it means that even those with slightly older phones will get what could turn out to be a seriously convenient feature.

Unfortunately, not every device is supported by default — at launch, only Google Pixel Buds, Libratone Adapt On-Ear headphones, and Plantronics Voyager 8200-series headsets will support it. As time goes on, however, you’ll begin to see more devices popping up with compatibility. To take advantage of the feature, you’ll need to make sure you have Google Play Services 11.7 or later installed — and that’s rolling out over the next few days and weeks.

Editors' Recommendations

Christian de Looper
Christian’s interest in technology began as a child in Australia, when he stumbled upon a computer at a garage sale that he…
When is my phone getting Android 14? Here’s everything we know
The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra next to the Google Pixel 7 Pro.

Google has released the second public beta for Android 14, its upcoming smartphone software for Google Pixel devices. We've officially left the developer preview stage and are a major step closer to Android 14's final release later this year.

With Android 14, there are some priority changes in app behaviors and compatibility instead of just new features and other enhancements. There are also going to be improvements made to settings for privacy, security, and even system health. In short, Android 14 may not be packed with a ton of brand new features, but it will refine and streamline what is already there.

Read more
I’m excited for the Google Pixel Fold, and you should be too
Side view of the Pixel Fold

It’s official: the Google Pixel Fold is coming. After months of rumors and speculation, Google revealed the Pixel Fold on Star Wars Day, of all days. With the tagline “May The Fold Be With You,” Google dropped a tweet that showed off the Pixel Fold in all of its glory. And now, after the official announcement at Google I/O 2023, the Google Pixel Fold is shaping up to be one of the more exciting releases this year.

I’ve always been an iPhone gal, but since I joined Digital Trends, I’ve been checking out Android phones more than ever before. I’ve taken quite a liking to the Pixel lineup of devices, including the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7a, which also just dropped today. But the Google Pixel Fold is the one device I can’t wait to get my hands on, especially when compared to the competing Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (and the Galaxy Z Fold 5, which is likely coming this year too).
It looks like the perfect compact size

Read more
Does the Google Pixel 7a have a headphone jack?
Google Pixel 7a in Snow on a lamp post

The Google Pixel 7a is Google's latest addition to its midrange A-series smartphones. It's likely to be one of the best options for anyone who wants a strong handset with pure Android, solid performance, and an exceptional camera.

But we can't touch on the hardware without addressing one of the most common questions about any new smartphone. Namely, does the phone have a headphone jack? Smartphone manufacturers have been on a crusade against the venerable port in recent years, and the headphone jack has been excised from the vast majority of the phones you can buy today. So, does the Google Pixel 7a include a headphone jack, or will you need other ways to listen to music, audiobooks, and podcasts?
The Pixel 7a does not have a headphone jack

Read more