Chrome OS tests a Phone Hub to manage notifications and control your Android phone

Chrome OS tests a Phone Hub to manage notifications and control your Android phone

Update 1 (09/11/2020 @ 1:57 PM ET): Phone Hub is now appearing in the Canary channel of Chrome OS. Scroll to the bottom for more information. The article as published on July 29, 2020, is preserved below.

As part of Google’s suite of “Better Together” features, Chrome OS already offers easy integration with your Android phone for things like text/RCS messages, automatic Wi-Fi hotspot, and Smart Lock. Now, according to a recent report from 9to5Google, Google is working to expand Chrome OS’ integration with Android devices with a new “Phone Hub” feature.

A recent code change discovered on the Chromiun Gerrit points towards the upcoming Phone Hub feature flag, which “Provides a UI for users to view information about their Android phone and perform phone-side actions within Chrome OS.” The feature is expected to offer deeper integration between Chrome OS and Android devices, as the only information and “phone-side” actions currently available to users are viewing and responding to text/RCS messages.

Another code change regarding the feature reveals that the Phone Hub will be located in a new section of the Connected Devices page, right below instant tethering, smart lock, and Messages. The section will include three new settings, namely Phone Hub Notifications, Phone Hub Notifications Badge, and Phone Hub Task Continuation. While the code change doesn’t highlight what exactly will be available to users in the task continuation feature, 9to5Google suggests that the feature will let users seamlessly continue tasks from their Android device on a Chromebook.

As of now, it isn’t clear whether the Task Continuation feature will just let users move Chrome tabs between devices or if it will also allow users to continue app activity on their Chromebook. Since Phone Hub is still in its early stages of development, we currently only know that the feature will utilize Bluetooth to connect your Chrome OS device with your Android device. We also aren’t sure if the feature will require users to install a separate app on their Android devices.

It’s worth noting that Windows 10 offers a similar Your Phone feature which allows users to send and receive text messages, manage photos on their Android device, and use their phone’s media controls right from their Windows 10 machine. For Samsung devices, the Your Phone feature also lets users manage cross-device clipboards and view their device’s screen.

Update 1: (Non-Functional) Phone Hub Appears in Chrome OS Canary

The other day, XDA Member Some_Random_Username informed us that an icon for the new Phone Hub feature appeared in Chrome OS canary version 87.0.4258.0. Now, Dinsan Francis from ChromeStory has posted a video on YouTube showing off the UI for Phone Hub. In the video, we can see icons to toggle the hotspot and ringer on the connected phone. We can also see a button to locate your phone and an icon showing the battery life. Dinsan says the feature isn’t working yet, but we’ll likely see additional tweaks in future Canary builds.

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Pranob Mehrotra
Pranob Mehrotra

A Literature and Linguistics graduate with a keen interest in everything Android. When not writing about tech, Pranob spends most of his time either playing League of Legends or lurking on Reddit.