When Apple announced the AirPods alongside the iPhone 7 in 2016, everyone questioned their ‘awkward design’ and whether they justified their price tag. At $159, the AirPods weren’t cheap, but what I think was sold to customers was the experience rather than the device.
The AirPods brought with them features that separated them from any other set of wireless earphones available in the market at that point in time. They used their W1 chip and connected to Apple’s devices in a way that only the word ‘magical’ could describe. This seamless experience was definitely at the base of their success in the market.
Luckily for Android users, Google was not far behind in adopting this idea and in October 2017 they announced Fast Pair, which offers pairing functionality similar to that of the AirPods and more. Here we talk about the latest updates to Fast Pair and compatible devices.
What is at the base of Fast Pair?
What Apple does with its proprietary W1 chip, Google does by using Bluetooth Low Energy(or BLE for short). This is the same technology that Samsung uses in its new S-Pen from Note 9 for the remote function(in the camera).
In Fast Pair, BLE is utilised by the device to show its presence and also look for other devices. This is then followed by the use of traditional Bluetooth for pairing.
Google states that the Fast Pair service is set to be defined by speed, security and ease of use and to this end is working with several manufacturers to provide compatible devices.
How does it work?
- Power on your Fast Pair-enabled device.
- Activate Pairing mode
– Android will now scan for BLE broadcasts within a close distance of your phone and will discover a Fast Pair packet (provided that Bluetooth and Location services are active on your device).
– The discovered packet is then sent to Google’s servers, which brings back the specific device’s product image and its name along with an existing companion app.
- A notification appears on your device asking you to Tap to pair.
- If the user initiates the pairing, a classic Bluetooth connection is used to connect the devices.
All of this happens without you having to open up the Bluetooth settings page on your device.
Also read: Bose 700 vs Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones
Latest updates to Fast Pair
With their recent blog post about the Fast Pair service, Google announced a slew of features that are set to come with new devices. The features are as follows –
- True Wireless Features: This set enables your phone to report on factors like the state of case (open or closed) and provide battery status for individual components of the device set.
- Find My Device support: Allows you to track the status of a device in terms of their location and the last time they were used. You can also unpair the headset or make the device ring to locate it when in range.
- Connected Device Details: This feature is exclusive to Android Q. What it does is, it provides the user with an overview of certain details related to their device(battery life and EQ settings) and offers quick access to Assistant settings. Access to the device’s companion app will also be available in this window.
Also read: 10 best wireless headphones under INR 10,000
List of compatible devices
This is the list of current devices supported by this service.
- Google Pixel Buds
- Libratone’s Q Adapt On-Ear
- Bose QuietComfort 35 II
- Plantronics Voyager 8200 series
- Jaybird Tarah
New supported devices showcased at Google I/O 2019.
- Anker Spirit Pro GVA
- Anker SoundCore Flare+ (Speaker)
- JBL Live 220BT
- JBL Live 400BT
- JBL Live 500BT
- JBL Live 650BT
- Jaybird Tarah
- 1More Dual Driver BT ANC
- LG HBS-SL5
- LG HBS-PL6S
- LG HBS-SL6S
- LG HBS-PL5
- Cleer Ally Plus
Support for Chromebooks is also set to be introduced this year.