Nice pair

Google's Fast Pair brings AirPod-like Bluetooth pairing to Android

Phones running Android 6.0 and up will benefit from most of the new features.


On Monday, Google detailed how Fast Pair will improve the lives of Android users. The Bluetooth pairing feature was first launched in 2017, but it’s getting some new capabilities. In addition to smoother pairing, Fast Pair is now a blanket term for a suite of features that pinpoint an accessory’s location, tell you when to charge it if applicable, and manage its settings. Fast Pair will work best with Pixel Buds, but these features will be available to Android users running at least version 6.0 of the operating system, and Google is supporting third-party accessories.

What Fast Pair means now — The roster of new features aligns the new Pixel Buds 2 closer to the pairing functionality of AirPods. If they get lost, you can ring your earbuds or find them using GPS. Upon opening the case, you’ll get a push notification alerting you to the battery status of each individual earbud as well as the case (if the case is supported). Phones running Android 10 will benefit from managing the accessory’s settings.

Google is working on partnerships with additional wireless headphone companies, but for now, the Harman Kardon FLY is the only third-party device getting all of these features. With the Bluetooth audio standard getting a serious upgrade later this year, wireless listening on Android phones might actually feel like a perk soon.

Only time will tell which other devices the feature will come to, but we can imagine other Android accessory makers like Samsung, LG, and OnePlus — to name but three — will be eager to bring the same functionality to their accessories where they can. Perhaps Fast Pair will also find its way into Android Wear devices, assuming one that's actually worth buying ever gets made, that is.