Google adds AirPods-like features to Bluetooth on Android

Apple fans have long enjoyed the seamless integration within Apple’s ecosystem of devices. Google is trying to emulate that for headphones by adding new Bluetooth features for Android. These features should make it much easier to pair and use Bluetooth headphones with Android devices.
Google’s second generation Pixel Buds have started shipping, about six months after they were first announced. These truly wireless earbuds have generally been reviewed well and even use a similar pairing process as AirPods called Fast Pair. However, Google is looking to add more AirPods-like Bluetooth headphone features to all of Android, not just the Pixel line.

One feature Google is adding is the ability to easily find lost Bluetooth headphones. Just like in Apple’s ecosystem, Android phones will be able to find accessories like headphones by ringing them. Google says that they’re also adding the ability to check the last known location in the Find My Device app “in the coming months.”

There will also be new notifications for Bluetooth headphones including the battery level for each supported component (right/left earbud and case). Your phone will notify you when the battery is running low. The aforementioned Fast Pair will notify you of any nearby devices that you want to pair with, giving an option to “tap here to pair.”

To personalize your devices even more, Google’s adding the automatic renaming of paired devices. For example, if you pair your phone with the Pixel Buds, the name will change to [your name]’s Pixel Buds.

These new features will be enabled for Android phones running version 6.0 and up. However, those with Android 10 will gain the ability to adjust headphone settings and link to the Google Assistant directly from the device details page.

While these new features will obviously work with the new Pixel Buds, Google is also working with third-party headphone makers to add them as well. So far, only Harman Kardon has officially implemented them in the Harman Kardon Fly truly wireless earbuds.

Based on Google’s blog post, it seems that they’ll all fall under the “Fast Pair” umbrella as extended features of the original pairing technology. There doesn’t appear to be any specific branding or badges so it’s unclear how consumers will know which headphones support the new features. Regardless, it’s encouraging to know that Android users will be able to enjoy benefits that those in the Apple ecosystem have long enjoyed.