Google is introducing a series of new features for Android devices to enable seamless communication and for the first time, to integrate select Windows devices.
Google announced a series of features that will allow Android devices to communicate with each other seamlessly and for the first time ever integrate with select Windows OS devices. The features, which were featured at CES 2022, will be rolled out over the course of the year, some in partnership with other companies.
The following is a list of Google‘s major announcements at CES 2022
Android and Windows PCs
The Fast Pair feature on Android phones will come to the Windows PC later this year. This will enable setting up Bluetooth accessories, syncing text messages, and sharing files with Nearby Share. Google says it may partner with Acer, HP, and Intel to develop these features. The company is not partnering with Microsoft on these capabilities, so these are unlikely to be specific to Windows when they roll out, but rather will be specific to devices from these brands.
Currently, the Fast Pair feature uses Bluetooth technology to connect an Android phone quickly to headphones such as those made by Sony or Beats, as well as cars like select BMW models.
“When we talk about other platforms and where customers are present, Windows PCs are a prime example. A majority of Windows users have Android,” Ronald Ho, Google’s Group Product Manager, said a few days before the announcement explaining why the integration is necessary.
Google’s executive declined to share many details about how these features will work and whether or not they would require new apps. Their ultimate goal is to make switching between Android and Windows smooth, so that’s where their efforts will be focused.
Quickly setting, connecting devices
Google will also be bringing Fast Pair for headphones to Google TV and other Android TV devices in the coming months. Chromebooks, along with Matter-enabled smart home devices and Google Home, will also be able to pair quickly with Fast Pair. Amazon, Apple, and Google, among others, support the Matter protocol, which simplifies smart home devices by using a single standard.
Google will offer users the option of setting up their Chromebooks with their Android phones later this year. As a result, users will be able to configure their Chromebooks with one tap from their Android phone without having to reenter all details or passwords. Chromebooks have seen a recent boom in popularity due to the Covid-19 pandemic and increased interest in online education.
Lock, unlock devices quickly
Chromebooks or Android devices can also be unlocked with a Wear OS smartwatch. This feature will be available in the coming months. Google said it will work with both the chipset partners and the OEMs to make sure this is available on as many watch models as possible. However, it did not specify whether older WearOS watches would support the feature. It appears that the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 series will support the feature.
Google will implement a feature later this year that allows BMW vehicles to be locked and unlocked using an ultra-wideband (UWB) phone. Users will also be able to share keys with family and friends to select supported cars.
Do tasks across devices, share media easily
If a user is working on a Chromebook and has headphones on, and the phone rings, the headphones will automatically switch over to the other device. The system won’t require you to select devices or fiddle with menus, Ho said during the briefing. After the call is over, the audio will switch back to the Chromebook.
Google will also support spatial audio on Android for headphones, giving users an immersive sound experience based on the supporting content. It did not provide any details on which Android versions will support spatial audio, nor on the hardware involved. Apple’s iPhones, Macs, and AirPods support spatial audio.
“There are going to be situations where specific hardware is required for certain devices. We will work closely with our partners to ensure that it is released on time and is actually supported on those devices. To ensure these experiences are good, optimal, and fast across these devices, we will also work with the system-on-chip companies that build these chips,” Ho said.
Devices like cars that can connect to assistants will allow users to accomplish much more. In Volvo cars, users will be able to give commands directly from their phones to warm up and cool down the car, lock and unlock the car, and see the battery status. This feature will be released in the upcoming months.
Chromecast will also be built into more brands, starting with Bose speakers and soundbars. Users will be able to view and respond to their Android phone’s messages and chat apps on Chromebooks later this year without having to download these apps first.
Additionally, Phone Hub will add a new feature in the coming weeks, which will allow users to share photos and videos from their Android phone to a Chromebook.