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Google is making Android devices work better together with expanded Fast Pairing

Google is moving boldly into 2022 with new features designed to bring all the devices in your life into harmony around your Android smartphone of choice. The company made number of announcements at CES 2022 to help make your devices and accounts work more seamlessly.

Fast Pair everything

Android’s Fast Pair technology already helps you get up and running with Bluetooth accessories like headphones and speakers, but now Google is expanding it beyond audio connectivity to add a whole collection of new devices.

Picture of Android TV showing Pixel Buds being automatically paired using Fast Pair.
Google

This means that in the coming months you’ll be able to use Fast Pair to quickly link up your headphones with your Chromebook, Google TV, or other Android TV OS device, add Matter-enabled Smart Home devices to your network, and even automatically switch your Bluetooth headphone audio based on the device you’re listening to.

So, for example, if you’re wearing headphones to watch a movie on your Android tablet and a call comes in on your smartphone, the movie will pause and the audio will automatically switch over to your Android phone. Once you hang up from the call, it will also automatically switch back to your tablet and resume the movie where you left off.

Google is adding its automatic unlock features to WearOS, meaning you’ll soon be able to unlock your Chromebook, Android phone, or tablet with your paired smartwatch whenever you’re close by.

Taking it on the road

December’s Pixel feature drop also brought long-awaited support for digital car keys, allowing owners of recent BMW models to unlock their vehicles simply by tapping their Pixel 6 on the car door. The feature also rolled out to Samsung Galaxy S21 phones around the same time.

Animation illustrating Google Pixel 6 being used to unlock a car door.

At this point, the car key feature only works via NFC, meaning you have to pull out your phone and physically hold it near the car door. That’s set to change later this year, with Google announcing today that phones that offer Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology will gain the ability to unlock and start supported cars right from your pocket.

Google also says that it’s working to bring digital car keys to more Android phones and vehicles later this year, while also adding the ability to securely and remotely share car keys with friends and family.

In the coming months, owners of Volvo cars will be able to do even more, with integrated support for Google Assistant that will let you warm up or cool down your car before you even walk out the front door. You’ll also be able to remotely start your engine and lock and unlock your car, and even ask Google Assistant to let you know how much battery power or fuel you have left. Volvo is just the start; Google promises there will be more car brands to follow later this year and into 2023.

Jesse Hollington
Jesse has been a technology enthusiast for his entire life — he probably would have been born with an iPhone in his hand…
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