Technology

Android will get AirPod-style auto-switching and spatial audio in 2022

Google plans to spend the next few months enhancing the capabilities of its Bluetooth headphones on Android phones. It plans to update its Fast Pair technology to include features that iPhone and AirPod users have long enjoyed. With supported headphones (supposedly coming out in 2022 but not yet announced), audio sources including Android phones, Chromebooks, Android TV, and select Windows PCs will be automatic switching.

Google will also start supporting full head tracking for spatial audio on Android, adapting the audio based on your head movements. It already supports basic spatial audio for some music services at the moment. Unfortunately, that’s all the details the company is providing about spatial audio for now — meaning that details ranging from supported music streaming services, supported headphones, and supported versions of Android remain unknown.

Auto switching and spatial audio are just two of the many Fast Pair features that will arrive “in the coming months” and, in a few cases, “in the coming weeks.” Fast Pair is Google’s system for pairing Bluetooth devices together more seamlessly, using a small popup instead of requiring users to search system settings.

As with the Apple system, your headphones are also supposed to be paired with multiple devices connected to your account. Unlike Apple’s system, Google’s Fast Pair feature set is still incomplete and a bit confusing. However, in either case, the basic idea is to build a system on top of regular Bluetooth to make it easier for users to manage their devices – and perhaps create a simple lock as a result.

Samsung has its own ecosystem with Samsung devices and Samsung headphones, supporting some of the features Google hopes to roll out in general this year. However, Google’s Fast Pair program is open to more manufacturers.

Automatically switch bluetooth headsets from Android tablet to Android phone when a call comes in
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Besides these two notable Fast Pair features, there are a few more that are coming in 2022. Google will enable Fast Pairing on Google TV and “other Android TV OS” devices as well as Chromebooks. More interestingly, Google is partnering with Acer and HP to begin bringing some of its Fast Pair technology to Windows PCs, as well as offering support for Nearby Sharing and text message syncing.

These voice features are part of a larger batch of Google’s CES 2022 announcements — all of which are also set to arrive sometime in 2022. Google’s “Better Together” brand expands to include text messaging syncing of any app with Chromebooks, using Fast Pair UI To set up smart home gadgets, build Chromecast into Bose speakers and amplifiers, and even unlock Android phones with Wear OS 3 smartwatches.

Overall, these ads are Google’s attempt to bring many of the advantages of the Android ecosystem to Apple users that Apple users have. But since they’re both from Google and Android, expect the app’s rollout to take some time and be a bit haphazard. Google says that many of these features won’t require a full Android update, at least.

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