Fast Pair, 3D audio, multipoint… Google wants to make your headphones and earphones smarter

On the occasion of CES in Las Vegas, Google announced many new features to come for the management of headphones and earphones on Android, with the Fast Pair connection on PCs and televisions, 3D audio and automatic source switching.

The Bose QC45 for illustration // Source: Frandroid

Like many brands, Google declined the 2022 edition of CES in Las Vegas. Absent from the big American show, the firm however took advantage of the event to unveil some new products to come in the coming months. In addition to ads for the automobile, the connected home or computers, Google has also focused on functions related to listening to music through headphones or earphones.

For more than a year, Google has been promoting its own pairing protocol for Bluetooth headphones and earphones. With Google Fast Pair, users are prompted to connect a headset when turned on near their smartphone. Apart from the simpler interface, this function also has the advantage of linking the device to the user’s Google account. From then on, it becomes easier to connect the same headset to another Android device, such as a tablet, since it is already registered.

Easier connection to Chromebooks and TVs running Android TV or Google TV

This Wednesday, Google decided to go even further with Fast Pair. The firm has indeed announced in a blog post the arrival of Fast Pair on Chromebook computers. From now on, users will also be able to easily connect compatible headphones or earphones to their laptop running Chrome OS. “Within a few weeks, when you turn on your Fast Pair-enabled headphones, your Chromebook will automatically detect and pair them with just one click, allowing you to focus while studying or working wherever you are”says Google.

The Google TV interface
The Google TV interface

The firm does not stop there and will also extend Fast Pair to televisions running Android TV and Google TV. Again, the idea is to allow users to quickly connect headphones or earphones to a TV without having to navigate through the manufacturer’s often loaded interface. “In the coming months, you’ll be able to set up your headphones for when you need to watch your TV quietly with a Google TV or Android TV device at home”, says the firm. Google also intends to extend this compatibility of Fast Pair to other elements in the connected home if they are compatible with the Matter protocol.

Headsets that will automatically switch from your smartphone to your tablet

With more and more products compatible with Google Fast Pair, not only at the level of headphones and earphones, but also of smartphones, PCs and televisions, it could be difficult to navigate to find out which device a headset is connected to. But here too, Google intends to take matters into its own hands. The firm has announced the arrival of two features that seem largely inspired by what Apple offers with its AirPods:

To amplify your visual and auditory experiences, your devices should instinctively know which of them you’re using at any time. We’ve developed technology for Bluetooth headsets that allows them to automatically switch audio to the device you’re listening to. So if you’re wearing headphones to watch a movie on your Android tablet and you receive a call, the movie will pause and the headphones will automatically switch to your Android smartphone and then back to the movie when you’re done.

Concretely, it is for Google to allow you to easily connect a Bluetooth headset or earphones to several sources at the same time, the famous multipoint Bluetooth, without this being the case technically.

The headset will be able to switch between devices
The headset will be able to switch from one device to another // Source: Google

Like AirPods headphones, linked to an Apple account, the different devices connected to a Google account will be able to communicate with each other to find out which one most urgently needs to broadcast sound to the headphones. For now, however, Google has only announced compatibility with Android and Chrome OS. Nothing has been announced yet for Windows PC users.

The arrival of spatial audio on Android

Another inspiration coming straight from Apple, the arrival of spatial audio on headphones and earphones. If it was already possible to enjoy 3D audio via Dolby Atmos or Sony 360 Reality Audio, Google intends to go even further by offering an audio spatialization function based on head movements. “Spatial audio on your headset will make you feel like you’re there by adapting the sound to your head movements, positioning the audio in the space around you”, says Google. For the time being, the firm does not provide any further information on the technical aspect of this functionality.

As the arrival of simultaneous connection to multiple devices, spatial audio will arrive ” in the coming months “but only on “compatible helmets”. It is not yet known which models will offer this functionality.

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