There was good news for Google TV users at CES 2024 this month, when Google announced the long-awaited arrival of Fast Pair for the platform. That makes it much easier and faster to connect the best wireless headphones to your Google TV if they support this feature, and it’s been a long time coming – we first saw the feature on phones back in 2018, so Google hasn’t exactly been busting its chops here
But there’s another improvement coming, and while Google didn’t make a big fuss about, it could be just as useful if you use headphones as well as speakers to enjoy your on-screen entertainment: it's a new quick audio switcher that solves a problem that’s an irritation for some.
If you use Bluetooth headphones with a Google TV (such as Sony or TCL models), you’ve probably encountered the fairly annoying issue where you can’t quickly switch from headphones to speakers or soundbar; depending on the hardware you have, it tends to mean diving through a lot of screens to find the appropriate setting to switch your audio output.
If that’s you, the new audio switcher for Google TV can’t come soon enough. Although right now it looks like you may have to wait a little while to get it unless you’re buying a brand new TV.
What does the new Google TV audio switcher do?
It’s just as simple as the name suggests: it’s a fast way to switch audio outputs.
As 9to5Google reports, the new switcher was demonstrated at CES and makes it easy to switch between your Bluetooth headphones and the TV’s speakers; while switching to other audio devices such as soundbars and AV receivers wasn’t demoed, the assumption is that the switcher will work just as well for those too. It'll just be a couple of presses, no hassle.
So you must be wondering when will the new Google TV audio switcher be available. That’s a very good question, and so far we don’t have an answer: the feature was demonstrated on a TCL QM8 TV at CES, so presumably it’s coming to other TCL TVs too, and it would be distinctly odd if it didn’t also come to more of the best TVs powered by Google TV, including Hisense and Sony models.
It seems like a great upgrade, though – lots of the best headphones and best wireless earbuds support Google Fast Pair, and sometimes you just want to watch something on a big screen without disturbing others (or being disturbed), and headphones make that easier.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.