Bluetooth pairing on Android just got a whole lot easier

Google has today announced a new improvement to Bluetooth pairing called Fast Pair. The company is calling it the hassle-free process to pair your Bluetooth devices.

Unlike most features that get released, Fast Pair actually doesn’t require the very latest version of Android to support it. Fast Pair is supported on all Android devices running Google Play services 11.7+ with compatibility back to Marshmallow (Android 6.0).

Fast Pair uses BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) for advertising and discovery and uses classic Bluetooth for pairing. Here’s how Fast Pair works:

  1. Turn on a Fast Pair-enabled device and put it in pairing mode.
    • Android scans for BLE broadcasts in close proximity of the user’s phone and discovers a Fast Pair packet (provided Bluetooth and Location is turned on).
    • This packet is sent to our servers to get back the device’s product image, product name and companion app (if there is one).
  2. The user receives a high priority notification asking them to “Tap to pair” to the device. The notification contains the product name and image.
  3. When the user taps on the notification, we use classic Bluetooth to establish a connection.
  4. A success notification is shown which contains a link to download the companion app (if there is one).

What’s great about this is you no longer have to mess around with the Bluetooth settings to get a pair of headphones paired. It works very similarly to the exclusive pairing process Apple has with the iPhone and its Airpods.

It’s something manufacturers will need to work with Google to get properly implemented, and as you can imagine the new Pixel Buds are already supported. Hopefully with the right adoption, the Fast Pair process will soon become standard in Bluetooth accessories across Android.