Google laid out its plans for a number of new features coming to its ecosystem of devices and operating systems this year, a lot of which is focused on connecting them all or making setup easier. Whether you have an Android phone and an Android TV or a Chrome OS devices and a Wear OS watch, there is a good chance they will start to talk to each other.
Quicker setup of all devices
One of the biggest items Google announced today involves Fast Pair, the quick-connect technology that Google pushed out to phones and headphones a couple of years ago. In the coming weeks and months, Fast Pair will work on more devices and throughout more operating systems.
The idea here is that when you fire up your headphones in pairing mode, your TV will recognize and be like, “Hey, cool headphones, wanna pair?” just like it does on your phone.
For Google TV and Android TV devices, you’ll be able to Fast Pair headphones “in the coming months.” For Matter-enabled smart home devices, Fast Pair will work to add them to your Google Home units “in the coming weeks.” With your Chromebook, Fast Pair for headphones will also happen “in the coming weeks.” And finally, setting up a Chromebook should happen even faster by using a paired Android phone.
Fast Pair to Windows PC
This gets its own section because it will be big once it happens. Google announced today that it will add Fast Pair functionality from Android phones to Windows PCs. This will help with Bluetooth accessory setup, sync text messages easier, and allow for better file sharing with Nearby Share.
Google says they are working with Acer, HP, and Intel for this action to start. This is a coming “later this year” feature, so you’ll just have to stay tuned for more details as we learn them.
Locking and unlocking with your Wear OS watch
This one might be my favorite – Google is going to let you unlock your Chromebook or Android phone or tablet with your paired Wear OS watch “in the coming months.” This isn’t one of those Smart Lock janky things either. My understanding is that this will work as a native unlock share between watch and other devices, similar to how the Apple Watch can unlock an iPhone.
Also, in a bit of a refresher on previous news, Google says that using UWB technology in Samsung and Pixel phones (Pixel 6 Pro) will allow you to unlock and lock your fancy BMW vehicle “later this year.”
More Chrome connections
For Chromebook and Chromecast fans, there’s even more to look forward to. Here’s a list of what else Google is working on for the coming weeks and months:
- Bluetooth switching: Automatic switching of audio devices from Chromebook to Android and back. This could happen as a call comes in and you are watching a video on your Chromebook, but take the call through your phone. Your headphones will jump to whichever device you’d like to use.
- Chrome OS messaging apps: Later this year, you will be able to respond to messaging and chat apps from your phone on your Chromebook without actually installing those apps on your Chromebook.
- Phone Hub gets Camera Roll access: Google is going to add access to your phone’s Camera Roll from a Chromebook’s Phone Hub later this year, giving you easy photo and video sharing without needing your phone handy.
- Chromecast built-in: Even more devices will get Chromecast built-in this year, including all Bose speakers and soundbars.
- Spatial audio with your head: Depending on head movements, headsets that support spatial audio will soon automatically adjust to make you feel like the audio is fully surrounding you, as you move.
If you have surrounded yourself with Android phones, watches, and Chromebooks (soon Windows PCs too), your 2022 will be filled with new connections between them. Hope you are cool with that.