CES: Google Pushes Cross-Platform Functionality for Android

Alphabet’s Google is making its Fast Pair Service and Chromecast capabilities more interoperable as well as improving functionality with third-party devices that use Google’s own Android OS, Wear OS or Chrome OS and third-party platforms such as Microsoft Windows, Amazon’s Matter smart home standard, and others. In 2021, the average household had 25 connected devices, up from 11 in 2019, and Google wants to free users “to pick and choose the devices that work best for you regardless of brand,” says Google vice president of multi-device experiences Erik Kay.

A main focus is making it easier to set-up new devices. Fast Pair has long been pairing Android phones with Bluetooth accessories. Google is extending Fast Pair beyond audio to wearables, TVs, smart home devices and cars. Built-in support for Matter on Android will let Fast Pair “connect new Matter-enabled smart home devices to your network, Google Home and other accompanying apps all in just a few taps,” according to Kay on the Google blog.

Acer, HP and Intel are among the partners Google is working with to bring Fast Pair to Windows PCs so they can connect to Android phones. “You can then set up Bluetooth accessories, sync your text messages and easily share files via Nearby Share,” reports Engadget, noting the feature “will arrive on select Windows PCs later this year.”

Right now, a Chromebook can be unlocked with an Android phone, “but in the coming months, you’ll be able to use a Wear OS watch to do the same,” writes CNET, adding that “later this year, you’ll be able to set up a new Chromebook with Fast Pair and give it instant access to saved information including your Google login and Wi-Fi password.”

Also later this year, Chromebooks will get new Phone Hub functionality. “You won’t have to install separate apps like Signal or WhatsApp on your laptop to message your friends via your phone anymore,” Engadget explains. “Messages from chat apps will show up on your Chromebook and you can reply to them from there.”

As of December 1, Google enabled Samsung Galaxy S21 Series and Google’s Pixel 6 and 6 Pro phones as digital keys for BMWs when held to the door handle. Later this year, “phones with ultra wideband support can open car doors without leaving your pocket or purse,” reports Engadget. “Google is also adding support for key sharing, in compliance with the Connected Car Consortium interoperable standard, so you can remotely share access to your vehicle right from your phone.”

As of last month, the abovementioned phones also start the BMWs when placed in the car’s phone charging dock.

CNET contextualizes that while none of the additions are jaw-dropping, “that’s fine because nearly everything is focused on making life simpler and devices more straightforward to use. Some of these features might seem familiar to owners of Apple devices. But keep in mind that Apple only has to support its own hardware, Google has to support hardware from multiple phone, tablet, watch and PC makers.”

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