Chrome OS devices will be receiving support for Google's Fast Pair at some point in 2019 and the feature is being updated starting today to sync across an account for any device running Android 6.0 or newer, according to recently reported announcements from the company. For Chromebook or Chrome OS tablet users, that means that a simple push notification interaction will get Bluetooth device connection started in the future, although no exact date has been given. For smartphones running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or newer, Bluetooth syncing will now be able to happen automatically across devices. Once a Bluetooth device has been associated with a Google account via the initial connection to a handset, the data associated with a connected Bluetooth device will be synced upon sign-in to a new device.
Background: The new feature is not fundamentally different from how Fast Pair works right now for Android handsets with one substantial difference. Fast Pair was launched with the Google Pixel 2 and rolled out to other devices late last year. It essentially uses location data and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to allow a smartphone to recognize when a compatible headset or speaker is nearby. The information sent by those devices is compared against an online database to provide the user with pertinent information via a push notification. Users can interact with the notification to sync their handset or tablet to the device and download any related apps that may be required for some listening gadgets. In effect, Fast Pair eliminates the need to go into Bluetooth settings and manually discover and link to a Bluetooth device. BLE is used to detect nearby devices and the Bluetooth is utilized to establish the connection as it normally would.
Devices running Chrome OS have generally not had access to the feature, despite the inclusion of Android under the hood that allows users to download Play Store apps. So although Android devices have been able to take advantage over the course of the last year, Chrome OS gadgets have been left out entirely. That may not be entirely unreasonable since plenty of those devices have reportedly had serious Bluetooth connection problems over the past several years. From unstable connections and frequent disconnects to laggy experiences with Bluetooth hardware, the problems have been almost as widespread as the Wi-Fi disconnections that Google recently began addressing more broadly. Presumably, the incoming compatibility with Fast Pair features implies that all of those problems will be worked out by the time it releases.
Impact: Using the feature does depend on the compatibility of the headset or speaker in question. That means that it won't necessarily work with every listening device. For the time being, very few devices such as Jaybird's Tarah Wireless Sport Headphones and some upcoming gadgets from Anker SoundCore, Bose, and others fit the bill, in addition to Google's own Pixel Buds. The search giant recently put out a Fast Pair Validator app on the Google Play Store to ensuring compatibility easier on OEMs. It has also said that it is working closely with other manufacturers to bring the functionality to the consumer market as part of native SDKs already used by many companies. So it shouldn't be too surprising for Fast Pair to become a fairly standard inclusion in newer devices going forward. When Fast Pair does arrive on Chromebooks, it should bring the account sync feature as well.