As part of a broader Android announcement, Google said today that it will integrate key Android features with Windows this year.
“For the first time with Android, we’re also focused on building for other platforms, like Windows, whether it’s in gaming, productivity or other areas,” Google vice president Erik Kay writes. “For example, by connecting your Android phone to your Windows PC with Fast Pair, you’ll be able to quickly set up Bluetooth accessories, sync text messages, and share files with Nearby Share. We’re working with Acer, HP, and Intel to bring these experiences to select Windows PCs first later this year.”
So that’s a lot of information, most of it pretty vague. Let’s deconstruct it.
First, remember that Google in December announced—just as vaguely—that it will bring Play Store-based Android games to Windows in 2022. That covers the “gaming” bit in the first sentence of that quote. The rest of it covers the productivity bit. Which will include at least these three features:
Fast Pair. Today, both Windows and Android offer support for Bluetooth Fast Pair (called Quick Pair on Windows) to quickly connect peripherals like mice and earphones. In the future, the two will work together so that you can connect your Android handset to your Windows PC to enable the other coming new Google features. And if I’m reading that right, pair other Bluetooth accessories with both your phone and your PC.
Text message sync. Today, you can use the web app version of Google Messages to access your Android-based text messaging on Windows (and elsewhere). I assume this is something else, however, like a native app that literally communicates with your handset.
Nearby Share. Google released this feature to Android last year (and, I think, to Chrome OS), and it lets you easily share information between two devices with Nearby Share, similar to Apple’s AirDrop. With this addition, you’ll be able to use Nearby Share between your phone and PC (presumably in both directions).
So, we’ll see how this all plays out. The only thing I do know for sure is that Google is doing this without Microsoft’s help, which is both curious and troubling.