Google today announced its 2022 product plans for the Android operating system, and several of the upcoming additions clearly mirror existing Apple features. The new functionality will allow Android smartphones and Google products to match capabilities already available with the Apple devices.
Fast Pair, a Google feature that enables Bluetooth accessories to instantly pair to an Android smartphone, is expanding to wearables, speakers, TVs, and smart home devices, so earbuds will be able to quick pair with Android TVs and Chromebooks, similar to how the AirPods work with the Apple TV and the Mac.
Automatic device switching, a feature that Apple built into the AirPods, is also coming to Google devices. Google says that it is working on technology that will allow Bluetooth headphones to automatically switch audio to whatever device you’re using at the time, plus Google has plans to implement head tracking for spatial audio, adapting sound based on head position.
In addition to bringing AirPods-like features to more Google devices, Google is also adding iCloud-style messaging. Chromebook users will be able to access chat apps from their smartphones without installing them, and photos and videos on Android smartphones will be automatically available on connected Chromebooks.
For setting up Google devices, Google is introducing a feature that will allow Android users to set up their Windows PCs by bringing an Android smartphone close to the PC, which will sync text messages and files in addition to allowing for the quick setup of Bluetooth accessories. This is similar to Apple’s feature that allows new devices to copy settings and content from an existing device over-the-air.
WearOS smart watches will soon be able to unlock Chromebooks, similar to how an Apple Watch can be used to unlock a Mac. Google already offers this feature to allow Android smartphones to unlock Chromebooks, but the new feature will more closely mirror what’s possible with the Apple Watch.
Google is also adopting an Ultra Wideband car key feature that’s similar to Apple’s Car Keys. It will let a Samsung or Pixel phone unlock, lock, and start supported BMW vehicles, functionality that’s already available with the iPhone.
Fast Pair and quick sharing for photos are coming in the next few weeks, while the other features are set to launch later in 2022.