Chromebooks Are About to Steal MacBooks' Best Feature

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Soon, Chromebooks may automatically connect to your Android phone hotspot.

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According to tips received by Android Police, Google will expand its Instant Tethering feature to non-Google Android phones, such as those from Samsung, OnePlus and LG.  Instant Tethering is currently available only for Pixel and Nexus phones.

When Instant Tethering is enabled, you won’t need to connect your Chromebook to your phone’s hotspot when you’re out of Wi-Fi range. You can just open the computer and it will connect to your phone automatically.

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One tipster, Wouter, found the feature enabled automatically on his OnePlus 6.

The second, Keith Myers, was able to enable it manually on his Pixelbook running “dev” experimental software.

“I was greeted to a pleasant surprise when I opened my Pixelbook at a train station and was greeted with a setup window for Instant Tethering on my Samsung Galaxy Note 9,” Myers wrote in a blog post.

Android Police couldn’t get Instant Tethering to work, so it seems  likely this feature is rolling out slowly.

As before, Myers notes, your mobile carrier must allow tethering for this feature to work. You’ll also need to be running Google Play Services 14.9.99 and Android 7.1 or higher.

If you want to check out this feature and your Chromebook is running “dev”, enable the flag chrome://flags/#instant-tethering. Set up your phone under “Connected Devices,” and you’ll be prompted to set up Instant Tethering once you’re disconnected from Wi-Fi.

As Android Police notes, Instant Tethering first rolled out in 2017 to Play Services 10.2 for Nexus and Pixel devices only. It was highlighted as a feature of the Pixelbook when the device was announced, and then expanded to more Chromebooks.

However, Google is a bit late to the game on this function: Macs have had an identical feature for iPads and iPhones since 2014, when Instant Hotspots rolled out with iOS 8.1.

Image credit: Laptop Magazine