Google to add spatial audio, auto-switching, and more to Android this year

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Google to add spatial audio, auto-switching, and more to Android this year

Google is going to be making some changes to Android this year that according to the tech giant in a blog post, will allow the operating system to pick up some audio features that iPhone and AirPods users already have on their devices. This will reportedly be done by updating its Fast Pair technology to allow for auto-switching and spatial audio. The addition of these features and some others are expected to take place in the coming weeks and months.

Google is adding features like auto-switching and spatial audio to Android

Fast Pair is Google’s system for pairing Bluetooth devices together using a pop-up window instead of forcing users to take a deep dive into the settings menu. With Fast Pair, Android users are able to sync their headphones to multiple devices that are under their account. Whereas Apple’s system for quick Bluetooth pairing is complete and works fine, Google still has some work to do on its version.

Still, over 100 million users have already used Fast Pair in order to connect their Android phones with Bluetooth accessories. Google says that it wants to “extend Fast Pair’s functionality beyond audio connectivity with wearables, headphones, speakers, and cars by extending it to TVs and smart home devices.

While you can now unlock your Chromebook with your Android phone, Google will bring this feature to paired Wear OS smartwatches allowing those with such a device on their wrist to unlock and access their Android handsets, Android tablets, and Chromebooks. 
What Google wants to do is put a skin on Bluetooth to make it easier for users to manage their Bluetooth devices. Google says that your Bluetooth devices should instinctively know which of them you want to use and when. The company says that it is building a technology for Bluetooth-enabled headphones that will enable them to automatically switch the audio to whatever device you’re listening to.
For example, let’s say you’re streaming the latest episode of Dexter: New Blood (which has topped all expectations, we might add) on your Android tablet using a headphone and a call comes in on your Android phone. With Auto-Switching, the television show will pause and the headphone audio will switch to your Android phone and switch back to the movie when done.

To reiterate, when the call comes in, the streaming will pause and the audio from the phone call will be heard over the headphones. When the call ends, the streaming video picks up from where it left off and audio the television show will be heard once again over the headphones.

Google will also offer spatial audio on Android with sound heard over compatible headphones based on users’ head movements. Which streaming music services, headphones, and versions of Android will support spatial audio is not yet clear. With this feature, audio sounds like it is coming from all of the spaces that surround you.

Auto-switching and spatial audio will be available sometime in the next few months on supported headsets.

Google is working with other platforms including Windows

A digital car key will soon allow you to use your Pixel or Samsung handset to open the door and start your compatible BMW car using your phone. And on Android handsets with Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology, you won’t have to take your phone out of your pocket to use it as a car key. In addition, when your friends and family members need to borrow your car,  the key can be shared remotely.

Google says that it is working to bring digital car keys to more Android phones and vehicles later this year. The company is also working on developing applications for other platforms including a way to connect Android phones to Windows PCs using Fast Pair allowing users to “quickly setup Bluetooth accessories, sync text messages and share files using Nearby Share.”

Google has partnered with Acer, HP, and Intel to have the aforementioned features available on select PCs sometime later this year.

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