One of the touted features of the new Google Pixel Buds is the availability of Android Fast Pair. This service does a few things for Android users when leveraged on the right hardware, including one-touch pairing, battery level reporting, device location help, and multi-device account-level pairing. As cool as all the features have been so far while using the new Pixel Buds, I can whole-heartledy say that the last one on that list was the one I was most excited for.
You see, we’ve been anticipating this feature for well over a year at this point and I was really hoping it would work for Chromebooks with these new earbuds. The idea is simple: pair your earbuds once and have a one-touch connection to them from any device that is connected to your Google account. After getting things set up and ready with my new Pixel Buds, I was very hopeful that I’d look in my Bluetooth device list on my Chromebook and see these new earbuds as an option to simply connect to.
To be clear, that most definitely didn’t happen. I even reached out to Google’s tech support and they confirmed this is not currently a feature for Chromebooks. To use my Pixel Buds with my Pixelbook Go, I need to put them in the case, hold down the pairing button around back for a few seconds, and hook them up the normal way. It works just fine and I was even able to jump back and forth from phone to Chromebook with a single click on either, but that wasn’t the experience I was really after. As a silver lining to my letdown, I can confirm a few of the Pixel Buds gestures do work on Chromebooks. Volume up/down, play/pause, and track skipping all work as expected. The Google Assistant doesn’t work with Chromebooks yet, however, and that’s a big bummer.
What I was really hoping would happen with this Android Fast Pair feature was something more akin to what Apple users enjoy with Airpods. For them, it is a single pairing solution that works on all connected Apple devices. If you pair up your iPods to your iPhone, they will be available to connect to on your iPad or Mac as well. It’s a nice touch and Google has everything in place to make it work between Android phones and Chromebooks, but it simply isn’t here.
When we all got excited about this last year, the entire story was wrapped around a single Reddit post that showed a user getting a Fast Pair notification on their Pixelbook. This led us all to think the feature was on the way, but it never fully materialized after this one sighting and we all just forgot about it. The Pixel Buds launch has reinvigorated the desire for this missing feature, however, and I’m now keenly aware of its absence.
I’d imagine it is in the works, but I’ll be honest and say I’ve not found much in the repositories pointing to an imminent arrival of the feature. When the Android Developers Blog first announced incoming Chromebook support planned for 2019 back in December of 2018, we expected to see this feature in place with the new Google Pixelbook Go and Pixel Buds. So far, something has halted the launch and we’re unclear what the problem is at this time. Worse yet, we’re not sure if this is a long range shortcoming or a feature that could show up next week.
We’ll be digging around in the repositories for any sign of this being worked on for Chrome OS, but if you are considering buying the Pixel Buds first and foremost as a set of wireless earbuds you can use with all your Google hardware more easily than other accessories prior, you need to know the experience on Chrome OS will be quite similar to every other wireless headphone you’ve ever had. While the setup process on Android is probably the best headphone pairing I’ve ever seen outside of Apple devices, the Chrome OS experience is still your average, everyday affair. I really hope that changes soon.