Google’s ‘Fast Pair’ makes it easy to connect Bluetooth headphones to Android phones — and it’s better than Apple’s version in one crucial way

    Google’s Fast Pair feature will let you pair wireless Bluetooth headphones faster and easier than the old fashioned way. Almost any Bluetooth headphone can support Fast Pair, as long as they support the “Low Energy” Bluetooth standard. It’s a lot easier for headphone makers to adopt Google’s Fast Pair than it is to build new headphone models with Apple’s W1 chip. The potential for headphones to support Fast Pair is far greater than for Apple’s solution.

Google announced its new Fast Pair feature on Tuesday, which will make it easier to pair Bluetooth headphones with Android devices running Android 6.0 or above.

All you need to do is:

    Turn on a pair of headphones that’s compatible with Fast Pair near your Android device, and put it in pairing mode, like you would with normal Bluetooth pairing. A notification will appear on your Android device asking you to tap the notification to pair the headphones with your phone. That’s it.


Pairing Bluetooth headphones to an Android device has always been problematic, at least for me.

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Business Insider

Indeed, pairing new Bluetooth devices to a smartphone can be a convoluted experience. My personal experience with pairing Bluetooth headphones to Android devices hasn’t been great. I’ll often see a long list of Bluetooth devices to pair with on the phone’s screen, and each listing usually looks like a garbled arrangement of letters and numbers, which makes it difficult to know which device in the list I want to pair with. It usually takes an inconveniently long time for the actual name of the device you want to pair to show up.


It’s similar to Apple’s seamless auto-pairing with iOS or macOS devices and its AirPods or Beats headphones that come with Apple’s W1 chip.

With Apple’s solution, all you have to do is flip open the AirPods’ case or turn on the compatible Beats headphones near your iPhone, and a notification will ask you to connect the two devices via Bluetooth. It’s almost identical to Google’s Fast Pair.

It’s a one-time process, and your AirPods or Beats headphones with a W1 chip will connect automatically to your iOS or macOS device next time you turn them on.


Except Google’s Fast Pair is better than Apple’s solution in one crucial way.

It’s a lot easier for headphone makers to adopt Google’s Fast Pair than it is to build new headphone models with Apple’s W1 chip. All headphone makers need to do is apply for Google’s Fast Pair support with a simple Google form, and even existing headphones can get Fast Pair support. As a result, the potential for headphones that support Fast Pair is far greater than Apple’s solution.

Headphone makers don’t even need to issue updates to their headphones to support Fast Pair. Everything that’s required for headphones to support Fast Pair is done on Google’s side. Google essentially just has to add a headphone model to its list of Fast Pair compatible headphones.

The way Fast Pair works is that a Bluetooth Low Energy signal is emitted by your headphones, and that signal is picked up by your Android phone. If your headphones support Fast Pair, your phone will recognize your headphones and start the easy pairing process. If your headphones haven’t been added to Google’s Fast Pair list, you’ll have to pair them the old-fashioned way.

Google’s Fast Pair works with existing and future headphones that have the Bluetooth “Low Energy” feature, which was introduced with Bluetooth 4.0 in 2010. With that in mind, headphones that don’t have Bluetooth 4.0 or above and the Low Energy feature wouldn’t be able to adopt Fast Pair.


So far, there are only a few headphones that support Google’s Fast Pair. Google’s Fast Pair should fix that.

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Google

Google has a list of headphones that currently support Fast Pair, which you can find here. As you’d expect, the list includes Google’s new Pixel Buds that will ship this month. And that list can easily grow considering how easy it is for headphone makers to get Fast Pair support.

Apple’s offering of headphones with the W1 chip isn’t too bad. It includes the AirPods and a range of Beats headphones. But that list isn’t likely to grow as quickly, as headphone makers will have to build headphones with the W1 chip built-in.