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Google Fast Pair takes on Apple’s effortless AirPod pairing

Along with the removal of headphone jack from iPhone, Apple introduced their first wireless earphones, AirPod, and pairing them with any Apple device is just like magic. Now, Google seems to have learnt that magic trick as well.

On the Pixel 2 launch event last month, Google also announced their wireless earphones, Pixel Buds. Today, Google is announcing Fast Pair, a bluetooth pairing method which makes the whole process very effortless. You just bring your Fast Pair enabled headphones near your Android phone, it automatically picks up the nearby headphones and with a single tap, you are paired.

Google Fast Pair

There are a few catches here though. Apple developed a proprietary W1 bluetooth chip for AirPods to make the pairing method seamless. However, Google has not developed any new hardware. Any smartphone running Android 6.0+ and having Bluetooth Low Energy can make use of Fast Pair as long as the accessory you are trying to pair also supports it. Google uses the location of your Android phone and automatically finds any Fast Pair enabled devices nearby. While such a device is nearby, the phone will also fetch device’s name, picture and any companion app (if there is one) from Google’s servers. The actual pairing still uses the good old bluetooth technology. Due to all this, one can expect Google’s implementation to not be as seamless as Apple’s. For Fast Pair to work, you need to have location services and internet available on your phone.

Furthemore, only a handful of devices like Pixel Buds and Libratone Q Adapt On-Ear support Fast Pair right now, with Plantronics Voyager 8200 series wireless headsets getting support very soon. Google has set up a form where accessory manufacturers can reach out to make their accessories Fast Pair enabled. It is not clear whether accessory manufacturers will have to change their firmware to include Fast Pair or Google only needs the information to put on their servers.


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