Google announces a new Find My Accessories feature for Fast Pair devices and a Bluetooth settings revamp for Android Q
In late 2017, Google announced a new feature called “Fast Pair.” The feature, which debuted with the Pixel Buds accessory for the Pixel 2, is designed to improve the first-time pairing of your smartphone with a Bluetooth accessory. Last November, Fast Pair was updated to support syncing saved Bluetooth connections between Android devices signed into the same Google account. At Google I/O 2019, Google quietly announced a new feature for Fast Pair called “Find My Accessories.” They also showed off a revamped Bluetooth settings page for devices running Android Q.
Find My Accessories: A New Fast Pair Feature
Fast Pair, short for the Google Fast Pair Service (GFPS), is part of Google Play Services, and it supports all Android 6.0+ devices connected to accessories with the A2DP or HFP profiles. The Android phone (a Fast Pair Seeker) scans for BLE broadcasts from an accessory (a Fast Pair Provider) containing a Fast Pair payload, which if found is sent to Google’s servers to compare with their database of Provider models. A notification is then shown to the user asking them to “tap to pair.” If the user accepts, a Bluetooth connection is initiated between the smartphone and the accessory. Subsequent pairing attempts with the Bluetooth accessory will surface a “your saved device is available” notification.
Google announced that a new feature called “Find My Accessories” is coming to all Bluetooth accessories that support Fast Pair. It will help users find their earbuds if they lose them by displaying where the earbuds last disconnected on a map in the Find My Device app. It tells you the range by checking the connection quality, the last time of use, and lets you unpair the accessory or play a tone that ramps up in volume.
New Bluetooth Features in Android Q
In Android Q, Google is catering to truly wireless earphones. A new feature they’re working on is showing battery notifications on the phone for when the user opens or closes the charging case. Google will also work on revamping the Bluetooth settings page to act as the central management for all devices connected via Bluetooth. Here, you’ll be able to see detailed battery information of your accessories, forget the pairing of an accessory, manage Assistant and notification settings, change touch controls, control audio tuning, and toggle in-ear detection.
For now, Google isn’t planning on providing a standardized set of options in Bluetooth settings. Rather, they still prefer OEMs provide their own companion apps, but they urge OEMs to use the Slices API to provide actionable toggles in Settings. The new Bluetooth settings page and notification aren’t live yet in Android Q beta 3, but they may appear in a future beta release.
Fast Pair coming to more devices
Expect more Fast Pair devices to launch this year. Google said they’re working on supporting additional Bluetooth profiles as well as BLE-only devices. The company outlined how they’re working with OEMs, ODMs, and 3PL providers to get them all interested in supporting Fast Pair. For example, Google recently announced a collaboration with Qualcomm to support Fast Pair on the new Qualcomm Smart Headset Development Kit.
But Fast Pair isn’t only coming to more headsets and earbuds. It’s also being adopted by wireless speaker manufacturers, so we’ll see the feature expand to more product categories in the coming months. Google already promised that the service will support Chromebooks this year, but during the session they also said they’re working with the Wear OS team to bring support for smartwatches.
Note: This information was announced during a Lighting Talk called “Fast Pair for Bluetooth Devices” held by Jian Deng, Jake Klinker, and Catherina Xu of Google. The session wasn’t streamed.