Google Assistant and Fast Pair are coming to even more headphones thanks to Qualcomm

We all think of Google Assistant as being something we interact with on our phones or via smart home equipment, but Google has also stealthily worked Assistant voice control and feedback functionality into headphones from many companies. Qualcomm and Google have partnered to give companies the tools they need to growth that number even further, with the announcement of support for both Google Assistant and Fast Pair in the Qualcomm Smart Headset Platform.

Best Bluetooth headphones in 2019

The Smart Headset Platform gives companies a head start in developing smart Bluetooth headphones.

The Smart Headset Platform is a reference design that companies can use as a huge head start to add smart features to headphones they're developing. It's built around Qualcomm's low-power Bluetooth audio chips, which come in a variety of different capability levels to let companies create headphones in multiple form factors at different price points. In addition to all of the other benefits of starting your development with a contained unit, the latest platform version now includes push-button-activated Google Assistant integration as well as Google's Fast Pair system for quickly connecting to (and switching between) Android phones on 6.0 and later — no extra work required, just plug and play.

We all know about high-end headphones like the Bose QC35 II (opens in new tab) that have Assistant functionality, and there are also cheaper pairs that work with Assistant (opens in new tab). But this new development should hopefully bring Assistant and Fast Pair to all sorts of new designs and price segments.

It'll be great when Google Assistant and Fast Pair are available on just about every set of headphones.

Fast Pair isn't something you're going to use often, but once you're used to it you'll never want to set up Bluetooth headphones any other way. People also aren't likely to use Google Assistant via their headphones on a daily basis, but once the feature reaches the point of ubiquity on Bluetooth headphones of all types, it could permeate the general consciousness to the point where it's what people are comfortable using more regularly. Both are great features that simply add to the Bluetooth headphone experience with an Android phone, and it's even better when you can just assume any headphones you choose will have them.


The latest version of Qualcomm's Smart Headset Platform is available immediately so companies can get working on new headphones (or new versions) that integrate the features.

Press release:

Qualcomm Expands Smart Headset Platform To Include Support for the Google Assistant

New Audio Headset Reference Design, Based on the Flagship Qualcomm® QCC5100-series Helps Manufacturers Create Innovative Products with Fast Pair and the Google Assistant

San Jose – May 9, 2019 – Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM), today announced support for the Google Assistant and Google Fast Pair on the Qualcomm® Smart Headset Platform. Based on Qualcomm Technologies' most advanced family of low power Bluetooth audio chips (QCC5100-series), the reference design includes key hardware and software required for manufacturers to more easily create differentiated wireless stereo earbuds featuring support for the Google Assistant and enabling a variety of product tiers and categories. The end-to-end reference design supports push-button activation for the Google Assistant which connects to the Google Home app running on the smartphone. The integrated platform is designed to bring a unique combination of processing capability, connectivity options, voice assistant interfaces and premium audio technologies to help meet increasing consumer demand for comprehensively featured, highly intuitive wireless stereo headsets and earbuds.

"Demand for voice control and assistance on-the-go is rapidly gaining traction across the consumer landscape," said Chris Havell, senior director, product marketing, voice and music, Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd. "Combined with our Smart Headset Platform. this reference design offers flexibility for manufacturers wanting to deliver highly differentiated user experiences that take advantage of the power and popularity of Google cloud-based services."

Google Fast Pair is supported on Qualcomm® QCC5100, QCC3024 and QCC3034 SoC series. This helps optimize the out of box pairing experience for end users and facilitates tasks such as switching the connection between multiple devices.

This end-to-end Bluetooth Smart Headset reference design enables manufacturers to experience exciting new functionality by supporting simple push-to-talk for the Google Assistant. Customers can then scale to a comprehensive, customizable development kit that includes the building blocks needed to create a differentiated smart headset which supports the Google Assistant. This reduces time to commercialization by making it simpler for audio manufacturers to start developing straight out of the box.

The Qualcomm Smart Headset Platform with support for the Google Assistant and Google Fast Pair is available to order today.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.