While modern Chromebooks can run Android apps, they lack the tight integration with Android phones that you see between iOS and macOS or even Windows 10 and Android. However, Google has been trying to improve with its "Better Together" initiative started in 2018 and last July we reported on some major changes coming.
Now, the team at 9to5Google has uncovered signs that these efforts are getting closer to fruition with a new feature referred to as "Eche" in Chrome tags. Based on the code, it appears to be a screen mirroring feature exclusive to Pixel devices.
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Chrome tags often reveal features ahead of time as the developers need to lay the groundwork for the functionality in Chromium. If you are unfamiliar, these are the toggles in the Chromium code that let you enable and disable features, for example, here's how to turn off the new grid tab layout for Chrome on Android using Chrome tags.
In this case, the code allows you to "Enable Eche App SWA," meaning a System Web App. It appears that this built-in app will allow you to essentially cast (Eche means "throw" or "cast" in Spanish) an app on your phone to your Chromebook and then interact with the app.
There do appear to be limitations regarding which apps will support this functionality — whether this is a determination the system is making or something app developers will need to handle isn't clear at the moment. Additional notation in the code also points to this being an exclusive feature for Pixel devices at launch. Google has been making a point of highlighting some features as "Pixel-first" lately, so this wouldn't be a surprise and doesn't indicate it will be a permanent Pixel exclusive.
While features showing up in Chromium flags don't give us a hard timeline for their release, with Google I/O likely happening in May, that would seem like a perfect time for this feature to get an official release.
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Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more. Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.