Google is rolling out another new feature to switch between all the android devices in your life a little easier. Media notifications, announced in THOSE, will allow you to transition car audio content to your phone, headphones, phone and smart home devices based on proximity. It’s the latest effort by Google to bring its Android ecosystem on par with Apple’s when it comes to connectivity and cohesion between devices.

The way Apple products seamlessly connect with each other has helped make it the world’s leading second largest smartphone maker and the best seller of Smart Watches Y wireless headphones. The release of Media Notifications is Google’s latest attempt to prove that products don’t have to be made by the same company to work together. Google has been moving towards this goal for years by introducing features like Phone Hub, share near Y fast pair. Additions like these have become all the rage now that Android and iOS have a bigger presence in our cars, our ears, and our wrists.

“This is an ongoing investment,” Erik Kay, Google’s vice president of engineering for Android, told CNET exclusively ahead of CES. “We’ve gotten to the point where pretty much any feature that appears on the phone or on a watch will inherently become a multi-device feature over time.”

Spotify and YouTube Music will be among the first apps to support Media Notifications. Google is also working with Spotify to make it possible to manage playback between Spotify Connect devices on android 13 new media player – another move to improve consistency across all android devices.

Google has not yet said when any of these updates will be released, nor which products will support Media Notifications. But since the goal is to make moving between devices easier, Google says users probably won’t have to do any legwork in the settings menu to enable media notifications. The prompts should appear automatically as you get closer to a compatible device.

“All of that happens naturally through little nudges and prompts in the user interface,” Kay said in describing how media notifications will work.

Media notifications will not require ultra broadband, a connectivity protocol that has made its way into new premium smartphones in the last three to four years, because it relies on signals from various sources like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. But it will probably work more accurately if you use a UWB-enabled device, according to Kay. Since UWB can provide accurate proximity calculations, its presence in phones enhances tasks like sharing files and content between devices and digital car key functionality. It’s also the same technology Apple uses to point you in the right direction for a lost AirTag.

“UWB is something we’re very excited about,” Kay said. “But it’s one of those things that’s going to take a long time to really become ubiquitous in the market.”

An illustration showing what Google's new Media Notifications feature might look like.

An illustration showing what Google’s new Media Notifications feature might look like.

Google

Google’s announcements come after Apple has gradually added new connectivity features to its ecosystem of iPhones, iPads, AirPods, Apple Watch, and Macs. Apple brought the capability to exchange FaceTime calls between your iPhone, iPad, and Mac on their most recent OS updates, for example. The ability to transfer audio from your iPhone to HomePod Mini Proximity-based was also a prominent feature when Apple introduced its miniature speakerphone in 2021.

But unlike Apple, Google isn’t using features like Media Notifications to power its own hardware. Instead, Google wants sharing between Android devices to feel consistent and easy, whether you’re using products from Google, Samsung, JBL, or any of their other partners.

It’s a goal Google must balance with promoting its own Pixel devices, which only make up a small part of the market. global smartphone market. You might be wondering why Google doesn’t just keep features like Media Notifications exclusive to its Pixel phones, Pixel headphones, and Nest smart home devices to make your devices stand out within the Android landscape. If Google wants to emulate Apple’s ecosystem approach, that would certainly be one way to do it.

The answer is simple: improvements like these are only useful if they are available everywhere.

“Every feature you create is a network effect feature, so you rely on there being a wide variety of devices to support the feature,” Kay said. “So if you build something [and] try to make it exclusive to one device, or one partner, or even our first-hand stuff, it’s not going to be as successful because there aren’t as many devices that it works with.”

As smartwatches and wireless headphones have become more popular, phone makers like Apple and Samsung have increasingly focused on these ancillary products as add-on outlets for their smartphones. Global smartwatch shipments grew 13% year-over-year in 2022, according to counterpoint researchweather canalys reports that true wireless headphones were the only personal audio category to show growth in the third quarter of 2022. Google is the latest smartphone maker to jump on the bandwagon, launching its first smartwatch, the Pixel Watch, in October, Google plans to introduce a new Pixel tablet next year.

Making watches, headphones, and smart home devices work together more seamlessly isn’t just about convenience. Some experts believe that accessories like these will play a big role in the future of smartphones as yearly phone upgrades feel incremental.

“The next quest for the smartphone is to figure out what it will connect to next,” Runar Bjørhovde, an analyst at market research firm Canalys, said in an earlier interview. for a separate story. “Because the smartphone hasn’t necessarily reached its potential yet, but as a standalone device I think the smartphone is getting closer and closer to the limit.”

By sbavh

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