Google announced a series of updates to Android on Wednesday designed to bring convenience and ease of use to users. One of the major changes is the expansion of Fast Pair to TVs, Chromebooks, and smart home devices. Headphones will also have the ability to automatically switch the sound from an Android device to a tablet, Google announced. The company also announced a quick setup of Chromebooks with Android phones. Similarly, smartwatches based on Wear OS are given the ability to unlock your Chromebook and Android devices.
Fast Pair has been available for Android phones since November 2017 so that users can quickly connect Bluetooth headphones to their smartphones. The proprietary standard is believed to have adopted Apple’s quick connect technology and is believed to have helped people connect their Android phones to Bluetooth accessories over 100 million times.
Google plans to expand Fast Pair to newer devices by partnering with various manufacturers and offering new experiences.
Google said that starting a few weeks ago, users will be able to automatically connect their Fast Pair-enabled Bluetooth headphones to a Chromebook with a single click the first time they are turned on.
In addition to Chromebooks, Fast Pair will work with smart TVs powered by Google TV or Android TV platforms in the coming months to help users quickly connect their compatible headphones to their TVs without going through a step-by-step process.
Matter smart home devices will also receive fast pair support in the coming weeks. You can instantly connect matter-made smart home devices to your network, Google Home, and other accompanying apps.
Google also announced that it is developing technology for Bluetooth-enabled headphones that will automatically switch the sound to the device you are listening to. For example, if you are wearing your headphones to watch a movie on your Android tablet and receive a call on your phone during playback time, the movie will pause and the headphone sound will automatically switch to your Android phone. It will return to your tablet as soon as the call is disconnected.
In addition, Google announced that it will provide spatial audio support for headphones that work with Android devices in the coming months. It will allow the headphones to adjust the sound based on head movements, the company said. Apple in particular has supported spatial audio on its devices for some time.
Google also announced that users could instantly set up a new Chromebook with their Android phone and instantly access information like Google login and WiFi password without the user having to manually enter them on the new hardware. The experience will go live later this year, although Google hasn’t yet specified exactly which Chromebook models and Android versions will receive the update.
Users also get the ability to unlock their Chromebook and Android phone or tablet with a paired Wear OS smartwatch and access them when the devices are nearby. It sounds similar to the “Unlock with Apple Watch” feature that Apple introduced last year.
Chromebook users are also given the option in the dedicated Phone Hub section to view and act on the messages they receive on their Android phones right from the larger screen of their computing device. It will be available later this year, the company said without describing how the experience would make it possible.
The Phone Hub also includes Camera Roll so users can access their latest photos and videos on a Chromebook.
Google also announced the expansion of Fast Pair to Windows PCs so that users can quickly set up Bluetooth accessories, sync text messages, and share files using the Near Share service. The update will hit Acer, HP, and Intel machines for the first time later this year.
Microsoft already offers the Your Phone app, which allows Android users to access their messages and notifications directly on Windows PCs.
To help users cast music and podcasts they listen to on their phones to louder audio solutions, Google announced that it is working on bringing Chromecast built-in sound bars and speakers. In the next few months, Bose will be the first brand to offer the new experience on its smart speakers and soundbars.
Last month, Google introduced a digital car key feature that uses ultra-wideband (UWB) phones to unlock the car lock. It is initially limited to Samsung and Google Pixel phones and only works with BMW vehicles. However, Google said that digital car keys will work on more Android phones and vehicles later this year.
The Android maker also announced that it is working on features including asking the Google Assistant to warm up and cool down a car, lock and unlock a car, and get information, including the remaining battery capacity. These functions will be available for the first time for selected Volvo Cars vehicles in the coming months, Google announced.
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