Like peanut butter and jelly or Converse and high socks, Android and other operating systems will soon be a perfect fit. That’s Google’s plan anyway. At CES, Google shared its vision for 2022 and how it makes Android work better with devices running Wear OS, Chrome OS, Windows, and the new smart home standard Matter.
The main appeal for Android has always been choice. When you buy an Android phone, you can choose the one that suits you the most based on the design, features and price. But even if you’re a loyal Android fan, it’s likely that what you have doesn’t run on it, which can make setup and sync across devices frustrating. The good news is that Google is looking to smooth out some of those continuity wrinkles throughout the year.
None of the additions Google shared are jaw-dropping, and that’s okay because almost everything is focused on making life simpler and more simple to use tools. Some of these features may sound familiar to owners of Apple devices. But keep in mind that Apple only has to support its own hardware, Google has to support hardware from many phone, tablet, watch and PC manufacturers.
Android Fast Pair will support more devices, even Windows PC
Fast Pair, first announced in 2017, helps you set up and quickly pair wearables, headphones, speakers, and cars. In a post published Wednesday, Google’s vice president of multi-device experiences, Eric Kay, said the company is working to expand Fast Pair functionality to TVs and smart home devices.
The first improvement is for Chromebooks and they’ll let you automatically detect and pair fast pairing-capable headphones with a single click. In the coming months, you’ll be able to use Fast Pair to connect new Matter-enabled smart home devices to your home network, Google Home, and other apps. You’ll also be able to pair the headphones with Google TV and Android TV OS devices.
Later this year, you’ll be able to set up a new Chromebook with Fast Pair and give it quick access to saved information, including your Google login and Wi-Fi password.
You’ll also be able to connect your phone to a Windows PC and set up Bluetooth accessories, sync text messages, and share files with NearShare. Acer and HP PCs will be the first to adopt Fast Pair support later this year.
Currently, you can unlock your Chromebook with an Android phone, but in the coming months, you’ll be able to use a Wear OS watch to do so. The update will let you unlock and access your Chromebook, Android phone, or tablet at any time.
But unlocking things with ease is not just limited to phones and laptops.
Right now, you can use digital car keys via some Samsung and Pixel phones to lock, unlock and start some BMW cars. And later this year, phones with ultra-wideband technology, like the Pixel 6 Pro, will let you use digital car keys without taking the phone out of your pocket and share your car keys with friends and family. Google expects to expand digital car key support to more Android phones and cars later this year.
Automatic audio switching from your Chromebook to your phone
Google is also building support for automatically switching audio going to Bluetooth-enabled headphones. For example, if you’re watching a video on an Android tablet and you receive a phone call, the video will pause and the headphones will automatically switch to your Android phone for the audio call. When your call ends, audio will switch back to video.
Another audio addition will be support for Spatial Audio which adapts the sound on your headphones based on your movements to position the audio in the space you are in. Spatial audio and automatic audio switching are expected to be released in the next few months.
Phone Hub on Chromebooks to Get Even More Useful
You can currently use Phone Hub on a Chromebook to browse open Chrome tabs on your phone, respond to chat notifications, toggle on Do Not Disturb mode, and run alerts to help you find your phone.