Google today announced a new feature called Fast Pair to quickly sync a pair of headphones with an Android smartphone. Fast Pair requires you to simply place a pair of headphones in Pairing mode near an Android device. This triggers a push notification on the phone screen. According to a demonstration in a post by Android product managers, once you tap that notification, it should only take a few seconds to pair headphones with the device.
The new pairing feature requires Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) or higher, as well as Google Play versions 11.7 or above. While that accounts for about half of Android devices, the support on the headphone side is much smaller.
Fast Pair will only be available for Google Pixel Buds and Libratone Q-Adapt wireless headphones, a Made for Google accessory. The Plantronics Voyager 8200 series headphones will also be able to connect with Fast Pair in the future, but Google didn’t provide an exact date.
Many an audiophile was disappointed to learn earlier this month that Google’s Pixel 2 smartphones do not come with a headphone jack, joining iPhones in ditching the traditional feature. Fast Pair could quell some of that anxiety.
The move also appears to be in response to Apple’s AirPods, whose exclusive automatic ear detection feature for AirPods and iOS devices connects via Bluetooth and resumes audio play whenever the headphones are placed in your ears.
Fast Pair is one in a series of features Google is offering to incentivize Pixel Buds purchases. The wireless headphones, which were unveiled a few weeks ago and are due out next month for $159, can transmit translation of 40 different languages into your ears, then produce translation for the other person in the conversation via a smartphone’s speakers. Pixel Buds will also deliver Google Assistant notifications, reminders, and navigation.
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