One of the coolest features of Chrome OS was Instant Tethering, which allowed certain phones to initiate a WiFi hotspot from a nearby Pixel or Nexus when there’s no WiFi network around.
However, it now seems that this feature is rolling out across other phones, as multiple users talking to Android Police have confirmed that their Beta and Dev versions of the Chrome OS now have Instant Tethering for an expanded range of smartphones. It’s not yet clear exactly what phones are and aren’t covered, but several OnePlus and Samsung devices have been hooked up to work fine.
It seems the requirements are fairly relaxed. Google officially requires Chrome OS 70, a phone with Android 7.1, a mobile data plan with tethering support, and the same Google account signed up to both the phone and Chrome OS device. Sadly, that rules out iPhones, but in theory everything adhering to these requirements should work fine, as long as third party processes don’t rock the boat.
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It’s still tucked away in the experimental areas of Chrome OS for now and it could be a while before you see it amble across to a stable build of the operating system. In the meantime, many users of the dev or beta Chrome OS build should be able to access it, although you might need to enable a flag to make it work.
I feel a bit like working in tech is like finding out one very cool feature exists every work day. Instant Tethering is one of those. The idea that your laptop can tap up your phone to get data when you’re out of WiFi range is surely one of Chrome OS’ best kept secrets. The fact I’m hearing about it as it’s rolling out for a variety of Android phones is an even better secret. One to watch, perhaps.
Do you use Chrome OS? Have you tried Instant Tethering? We’re on Twitter, let us know at @TrustedReviews