Android makes it easier to pair Bluetooth devices with new technology

1 Nov 2017

Bluetooth devices will be more convenient for Android users with this new update. Image: iJeab/Shutterstock

Wireless pairing is about to become a lot less frustrating for Android device users.

Apple users are used to relatively effortless wireless pairing between iPhones, MacBooks and AirPods.

Android users, however, had to go through a couple of extra finicky steps to get their devices to pair with Bluetooth or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) products, with NFC speeding up the process for some products.

What is Fast Pair for Android?

The latest announcement from Android developers will see Bluetooth pairing get a lot simpler, as Fast Pair will now be available on devices running Google Play Services 11.7 and Android 6.0 and above.

The feature uses BLE and your Android device’s location to make Bluetooth accessories in close range automatically discoverable, even showing you an image of the product you’re using.

You will then receive a high-priority notification asking you to ‘tap to pair’ to your device, and a classic Bluetooth connection is used to establish the link. A success notification is then shown, which will also have a link to a companion app for the product if there is one available.

This will eliminate the need for users to go into their settings app and search manually for Bluetooth devices to connect with, and even get rid of the need to enter a pairing code and so on.

Small amount of compatible accessories

So far, there are only two devices that are compatible with Fast Pair: Google’s Pixel Buds and Libratone’s Q Adapt On-Ear wireless headphones. There are also plans for the Plantronics Voyager 8200 series wireless headphones to support the new feature, with Google open to adding further devices.

Google Pixel Buds

Google Pixel Buds. Image: Google

The small handful of compatible products means it could be a while until you can make the most of this new technology on your Android device, but it is a positive step considering the continuing disappearance of headphone jacks from many devices. Manufacturers are being encouraged to register with Google to start the compatibility process.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects